MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami police are looking for a man who they say vandalized a bus belonging to a church causing thousands of dollars in damages, and it was all caught on surveillance tape.
The bus belonging to the Jordan Grove Missionary Baptist Church was used for the past five years to transport its elderly parishioners all across South Florida and even out of state. But now it can’t be used because it was vandalized, reverend Douglas Cook said.
Cook showed CBS4’s Peter D’Oench how the man smashed the instruments in the front console of his church bus to pieces and broke the screens of two TVs, causing $7,000 worth of damage.
“They tore the bus up and all the accessories of handling this bus,” Cook said. “They are the controls of the bus.”
Miami police are investigating to see if the man who committed the incident was captured on the church’s surveillance cameras, D’Oench reported. He was seen on tape for 19 minutes beginning at 3: 20 a.m. on Friday at the church located at 5946 Northwest 12th Avenue. He was first lingering and then trying to get through a gate to enter the church. The man was unsuccessful and was eventually seen leaving and heading towards the direction of the bus.
“My whole inside is upset, with what he did with this bus,” Cook said. “I mean these are our senior citizens who use this and they don’t have cars.”
Cook said his church has been burglarized in the past, but there has never been any vandalism like the one committed Friday. Insurance will cover most of the damage, but the bus is disabled, Cook said.
“It’s harmful,” reverend Jerome Starling said. “It’s mean. It’s hateful. It’s a pathetic act.”
The church bus is used at least twice a week and can transport at least 60 parishioners, including church member Ernestine Lattimore.
“It’s unbelievable,” Lattimore said. “I don’t understand it. It’s a senseless act. This was done by someone who does not care.”
The damaged bus was checked Friday by Miami police for fingerprints and the police department’s burglary unit will take a close look at the surveillance tape.
“This hurts me and it hurts the church,” Cook said. “I would like it if this person would show his face. We’re not that interested in prosecuting. I just want to talk to this person and see if he can change his lifestyle.”
Cook said although he did not recognize the man perhaps some of his 200 parishioners will. He plans to discuss the vandalism during church services on Sunday.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305 471-TIPS.