SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBS4) – Four suspected school burglars are in custody after a quick and massive response by Miami-Dade Police and Miami-Dade Schools Police and the young criminals are captured on surveillance tape.
The surveillance tape obtained by CBS4 shows three of the suspects walking casually around John Ferguson Sr. High School at 15900 S.W. 56th St. just after midnight on Monday.
Police recovered two trays with French toast, a Dell computer and an iPod headset. They said their intervention prevented more items from being taken.
Their presence set off a silent burglar alarm and both police agencies responded with some 20 officers and a K-9 unit. They even used night-vision goggles to find the suspects, said Schools Police Chief Charles Hurley. And police even intercepted a text message that helped track down the young men.
“One of the suspects got outside the perimeter and sent a text message to the two others we had in custody,” said Hurley. “Of course we had the phone and responded asking them where they were. And then we closed in on them.”
Those arrested include Edel Garcia, 21, Jonathan Alexander Swadener, 18, Steven Fabian Gonzalez, 20, and Omar Antonio Jiminez, 20. They had attended another high school and it’s not known why they targeted the Ferguson school.
They are charged with burglary of an unoccupied structure, theft over $300 and resisting officers without violence.
“We have very limited resources and restrictions on funding,” said Ferguson math teacher Hector Lopez. He told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that “We need all the equipment that we have. I am glad they we got them.”
“I think it’s a good thing curbing this crime,” said fellow Ferguson teacher Diane Augustus. “They are stealing from the school and it’s like stealing from your brother and sister that go to the school.”
“The response was nothing short of phenomenal,” said Hurley. “In particular I want to thank Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus and the Hammocks district for their support.”
“We have all seen the results of the economy and the funding is not there,” said Hurley. “If we lose items because schools are ransacked, there’s a price to it. You open up a refrigerator and steal some items like the French toast we found taken today on 2 trays and you run the risk of spoiling a huge supply of food. You steal a computer and they often can’t be replaced.”
Hurley said Schools Police respond to 12,000 alarms a year or 1,000 a month.
“You have to take these alarms seriously,” said Schools Police Sgt. Ivan Silva. “You never know what can happen and we have to be there and remain vigilant. The message is that we will remain vigilant and be out there on patrol.”
Hurley told D’Oench that overall crime at Miami-Dade schools is down 9 per cent since last school year. Burglaries are down 14 per cent.
“We have really picked up the pace,” said Hurley. “And not only is the crime rate down, but the apprehension rate of criminals is up.”