MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A victim spoke out as new surveillance tape shows two criminals stealing $4,000 worth of items from his unlocked truck and police said it shows an alarming trend: young criminals looking for unlocked vehicles they can break in to in the middle of the night.
“I feel like anybody else. I feel violated,” said “Bill,” who did not want to give his last name or say exactly where he lives in Northwest Miami-Dade.
Miami-Dade Police said the criminals struck his neighborhood in the area of N.W. 199th Lane and N.W. 64th Ave.
Bill, whose truck was broken in to outside his home at 5 a.m. on Saturday., January 24th, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “They took items that I need to run my business and it’s going to cost me a lot of money to replace them. I’m insured under my homeowner’s policy but by the time I do my deductible and they rate the losses, I am going to come out with nothing. I won’t get anything for it.”
The surveillance cameras at Bill’s home show clear images of the thieves. One man had longer hair and was wearing a backpack. Another man had a tattoo on his right arm.
“I think they think they can’t be caught,” said Bill. “They look right at the camera. They knew it was there.”
Bill did not want to say what his job was but the surveillance tape captures a number of stolen items including a hydro sensor which is a moisture meter and a pelican case.
“Inside it was a black and white old thermal imaging camera,” he said. “The cost to replace it is going to be high.”
Bill showed a photo of a camera that was similar to the one that was stolen. He hopes someone will call police if they see someone trying to use it or sell it.
“The easiest thing is it’s bulky and big and it is yellow too,” he said. “There are very few yellow cameras out there.”
“I guess they do this randomly,” he said. “They just pick a neighborhood and they walk around. My concern is who are they going to hit next and when are they going to come back here.”
Miami-Dade Police Detective Romelio Martinez told D’Oench he has a warning about young criminals looking for unlocked vehicles.
“We have a big problem with people looking for unlocked cars,” he said. “Usually it is young men in the middle of the night.”
In the past three years, D’Oench has profiled similar problems with “car hopping” in South Miami, Coral Gables and West Miami.
“They literally go down the street and look for unlocked cars and that’s how they find their victims,” said Martinez. “So if you leave your car unlocked, you might be victimized in this fashion. A lot of these young men walk down the street and they don’t carry screwdrivers. They don’t carry any implements to shatter windows or anything like that to gain entry into a vehicle.”
“It’s not only about unlocking your doors but time and time again we say do not leave anything of value or any valuables inside your car,” he said. “Remember to lock your car doors and don’t leave any valuables in your car.”
Bill said, “Just remember it only takes half a second for anything to happen in this world and you could be next. Your car door is open and you forget to lock it. It only takes a couple of minutes to get anything out of your car.”
“If I can recover these items it would be wonderful because that was a one of a kind camera that I had,” he said. “These guys need to be put behind bars.”
“Please call the police,” he said. “I’m sure you have the Crime Stoppers number. Let’s catch these guys and get them off the street.”
“They picked the one time when everyone was asleep,” he said. “Having cameras on the house is a great thing. However I did not have an alarm to wake me up so I did not know what was going on.”
Miami-Dade Police said the suspects are between 20 and 30 years old.
Bill believes they had an accomplice. A third man is seen briefly in the upper part of the surveillance tape walking down the street across from his home. “I think he may have been checking out other homes,” said Bill.
Bill said he and his son have studied the surveillance tape and think the suspects are in their mid 20s.
Bill hopes someone will recognize them.
Anyone with information that can help should call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477). Callers will be kept anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.