Roselle councilman chases down thief outside home

Anthony Johnson Image
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
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Anthony Johnson has the latest details.

ROSELLE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A councilman from New Jersey is being praised a hero after the pastor-turned-crime fighter chased down and tackled a suspected burglar who ended up having a long criminal record.

Roselle Councilman Reginald Atkins took his job to a brave new level, showing concern for his neighbor and his own family in taking down a career criminal.

"I know he could have had a gun, he could have had a knife," he said. "But at that point, it really didn't matter."

It happened late Friday night, when Atkins and his wife Cynthia were upstairs in there home. Their daughter saw a man lurking in the neighbors yard who then moved onto their property.

"She noticed he was coming around, looking into our windows," Atkins said. "And that's when she came and got me."

He ran out of his house, shoeless, and confronted the suspicious man in the driveway.

"I said, 'Listen, you're on private property, got my bike, what are you doing?'" Atkins said. "He says, 'I'm homeless. I'm going to be going to Plainfield.'"

Things got rough when the thief realized he was caught, and a scuffle ensued.

"He took the bike, and he pushed me up against the wall," Atkins said. "And he started running."

Atkins and his wife, who was in her nightgown, gave chase, and they jumped on the suspect and held him down until police arrived.

"I was shaking," Cynthia Atkins said. "The phone was shaking. I was shaking, and my hands were all wet. I was very nervous."

The suspect was identified as 62-year-old Patrick Hodge, who had outstanding warrants and a long criminal history.

"All I'm going to say is that I laid hands on him," Atkins said. "And I gave him a good sermon."

Atkins admits he did something risky, but he says he just reacted.

"My first impulse was to make sure they were safe," he said. "That's why I ran out."

Hodge was charged with second-degree burglary and theft and is being held on $50,000 bail.