SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBS4) – A young suspect has been captured again on surveillance tape burglarizing cars and now police and victims are asking for the public’s help.
The crime is called “car hopping.” Burglars go from car to car as quickly as possible looking for money, sunglasses, iPads, laptops, GPS devices and whatever they can grab quickly from unlocked vehicles.
Now, CBS4 has obtained exclusive video that South Miami Police said captured the same man and two other suspects “car hopping” not far from their city in Southwest Miami-Dade.
“These guys have been at it a long time,” said victim Fred Koch in an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “It’s time to get them off the street.”
Police said Koch’s surveillance cameras at his home near on Southwest 8rd Court near Southwest 72nd Street captured three suspects between the ages of 20 and 25 taking almost everything of value from Koch’s unlocked Cadillac during the early morning hours of Jan. 31st of this year.
“Unfortunately, I normally lock it but I left it open and I felt like a dummy when I saw the video,” said Koch. “We golf regularly. I don’t like to drag all the stuff in every night so it was all in the car. My wife’s bag. My bag. Our golf push cart. I feel violated. My wife was very unhappy with what happened,” Koch said. “It’s very disturbing. It’s disappointing.”
CBS4 first showed one of the key suspects in our story from Monday April 29th.
“This is the person we want to get off the street,” said South Miami Police Major Rene Landa.
The newest surveillance tape from Koch’s home was given to South Miami Police by Koch’s next-door neighbor, Manuel Alen. Alen did that after seeing the main suspect on TV last week.
“I called my wife and said did you see that? It’s the same guy who ripped off everyone on our block,” Alen told D’Oench. “Nothing like this has ever happened before. If you sit back and don’t do anything, nothing is going to get done.”
Alen’s car was also burglarized.
“I did not lose anything of value,” he said. “But I lost my privacy. I value my privacy. Not only would I like to see them captured. I would like to see them not just be slapped on the wrists.”
Major Landa told D’Oench that car-hopping crimes have skyrocketed in the past two years.
“Please don’t leave anything of value in your car,” he said. “That’s number one. Number two, if you do, don’t leave anything in plain view in the vehicle. And number three lock your door and don’t leave your doors open. They’re in there stealing sunglasses, gps devices, laptops, anything in the vehicle. Sometimes they are even stealing your car manual.”
“They often go out between three and four thirty in the morning,” Landa said. “These latest guys are young, between 20 and 25. They basically go out to see if the doors are open. If these people are caught, they will face felony burglary charges.”
“What’s interesting about this surveillance tape that is new is that these suspects took their time,” said Landa. He noted that one of the suspects had a “small beard.”
Landa urges anyone with information to call South Miami Police or Miami-Dade Crimestoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).
Landa expects that South Miami Police will be working with detectives from Miami-Dade since Koch and the victims on his street live in Southwest Miami-Dade.
Car-hopping criminals have also struck homeowners in Coral Gables. A rash of crimes were solved there three months ago when three suspects were arrested, police said.