FREEHOLDA Middletown Township police officer was charged with Shoplifting and Attempted Shoplifting after stealing from multiple locations of a discount department-store chain, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced on Thursday.

On Tuesday, January 23, 2024, Brenden B. Santiago, 36, of Tinton Falls, was charged with one count of third-degree Shoplifting and one count of fourth-degree Attempted Shoplifting.

An investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Professional Responsibility Unit and the Middletown Township Police Department revealed that from mid-to-late December 2023, Santiago successfully “skip-scanned” items, essentially scanning multiple less-expensive items and not scanning more-expensive items – or pretending to scan them and leaving the store without paying for them on six different occasions. In one instance during this time, Santiago was wearing a Middletown Police Department uniform while committing the theft. On Tuesday, January 9, 2024, Santiago was observed once again “skip-scanning” items and attempted to shoplift and leave the store with unpaid items for a seventh time. This time an employee “receipt-checked” Santiago’s purchases and therefore Santiago never completed the act of shoplifting. The total value of all stolen goods was in excess of $500.

Middletown Twp. Police Chief R. Craig Weber stated, “The criminal conduct alleged in the complaints filed against Patrolman Santiago are deeply troubling and do not reflect the values of our agency.  We firmly believe that trust and integrity are the essential cornerstones of policing and we hold our employees to the highest professional and ethical standards.  Santiago has been relieved of duty and suspended without pay pending the resolution of this matter.”

If anyone has any additional information about this matter, please contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Brian Hammarstrom at 800-533-7443.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Professional Responsibility Unit. Santiago is being represented Jeffrey Garrigan, Esq., of Jersey City.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.