DORAL (CBSMiami) — Doral’s top cop has issued a warning for parents not to leave valuables in their cars when dropping off and picking up their children at daycare facilities.
In recent weeks, there have been at least two cases where thieves broke into cars while parents were with their kids inside a daycare center.
Police Chief Ricardo Gomez told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that this is a “countywide” problem in Miami-Dade.
“There are individuals who specifically target these locations, looking for that one moment when you have your guard down,” explained Chief Gomez.
He’s concerned because of two robberies in the past two months at day care facilities in Doral. On Monday, a thief smashed the window of one victim’s car at the Little Kids Academy on Northwest 25th St. just west of the Palmetto Expressway and stole items including one mother’s purse.
On August 24th, a thief broken into another woman’s car at the Joy of Learning on Northwest 114th Ave. just south of Northwest 41st street and stole a purse.
Now the Little Kids Academy has posted a sign urging parents to not leave valuable items in their vehicles.
“All I’m asking is for residents and people to take a moment in time,” said Gomez. “If you’re going to a location to drop off your kids, take the time, take your purse out of the car because there are individuals who are targeting those locations. And that’s why many of them have surveillance cameras to capture the criminals,” said Chief Gomez.
“People become victims because in that moment in time, they are thinking about everything else but protecting themselves. They are thinking about ‘Do I have little Jimmy’s homework, do I have his backpack. Do I have little Suzy’s lunchbox’,” said Gomez.
“When you’re not thinking of guarding yourself, you’re not in a protective state,” said Gomez. “That’s what these other people look for. They’re looking for when your defenses are down.”
While the victims in both cases declined to speak about their cases, parents told D’Oench they were going to be careful.
He caught up with Hoover Tapiero at the Little Kids Academy when he dropped off his 1-year-old daughter Victoria and 3-year-old son Brendan.
“It’s a concern because we always leave our belongings in the car when we are dropping off our kids,” said Tapiero. “You wouldn’t think this would happen at a place where you leave kids off but times are tough. You have to be careful and don’t underestimate what’s going on. Always be careful. Don’t leave your car on and if you can, put things away.”
Chief Gomez said parents should be aware of their surroundings and what they are doing. Always tuck valuable items like purses and laptop computers in your trunk while stopping at daycare facilities and don’t leave any tempting targets for thieves.
So far, police have no suspects in these crimes.
If you know anything about the incidents and can help solve the crimes, call Doral Police or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.