CORAL GABLES (CBS4) – Surveillance tape at a Coral Gables school lead to the capture of a man who Miami-Dade Schools Police said is a career criminal who has targeted both a middle school and a hospital.
In a CBS4 exclusive, Jose Bryant,55, of Miami is seen on surveillance tape from Ponce De Leon Middle School backing up his pickup truck at the cafeteria docks, according to Miami-Dade Schools Police Sgt. Ivan Silva.
The tape from a camera at the school shows what happens around 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 28th while the school is closed.
“They are taking close to an hour,” Silva told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench while watching the tape. “They are very determined to take this transformer. It’s very heavy.”
The portable transformer is worth about $600 and is normally used at construction sites such as one at the school. Silva says Bryant gets help from three helpers who he has hired for between $5 and $10 an hour from a location in South Miami.
“These three helpers have not been charged. They may not be aware that this is a theft,” said Silva. “But the problem here is that people like the suspect who is charged go to any extremes to steal from government entities and businesses and you know that in the end, the taxpayers pay for this.”
Cafeteria racks are also stolen, according to the arrest affidavit. Bryant was charged with grand theft and burglary of an unoccupied structure.
Records show that Bryant was arrested before for aggravated assault, petty theft, battery and uttering a forged bill.
Silva told CBS4 that Bryant has also been seen on surveillance tape at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, stealing items. He was never charged with that because police never knew his name.
Tracy Sires, who has a child who attends Ponce De Leon Middle School, told CBS4, “I’m glad that he was captured. I think School Police did a good job finding this man. I’m happy they made an arrest.”
The arrest affidavit said the surveillance tape lead to the arrest.
An school administrator who had seen the tape spotted Bryant’s pickup truck on Tuesday near the school. He got a tag and contacted police. They set up surveillance of their own and Bryant was arrested.
An overjoyed Martha Chang, who is the principal of Ponce De Leon Middle School, told D’Oench, “I’m ecstatic that school police did this. It’s wonderful the support we receive. I’m ecstatic they made this arrest. I’m sad that this happened but I am glad that they have the culprit.”
While Bryant was arrested, school police urge anyone who sees suspicious activity to report it.
The public can call a Miami-Dade Schools Police hotline at (305) 995 – COPS (2677) or Miami-Dade Police Crimestoppers at (305) 471 – TIPS (8477).
The arrest affidavit said Bryant admitted to being at Ponce De Leon Middle School; but he said he was only taking items from the dumpster.
Police are skeptical and they say they want to hear from anyone who may have seen Jose Bryant targeting any other sites.