WEST MIAMI (CBSMiami) – New surveillance tape obtained exclusively by CBS4 shows what West Miami Police Chief Nelson Andreu is calling an alarming crime problem in Miami-Dade.

Andreu says the tape of a car burglary that takes just 23 seconds at a gas station last month is a crime “that is happening a dozen times a day in Miami-Dade County.”

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“These criminals are on the lookout for people at gas stations,”Andreu said in an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench.

“They are on the prowl at stations everywhere. They go in and out and in and out and they go to day cares as well.”

“The main message is don’t leave valuable items in your car,” said Andreu. “Women are known for this with their purses. Men leave their cell phones or lap tops visible. We are just as guilty as them.”

Andreu says the tape shows what happens when Georgette Trelles parks her car at a Chevron gas station on S.W. 8th St. at 59th Avenue at 8:36 a.m. on April 23rd.

“I couldn’t believe this,” Trelles told D’Oench. “I mean this was 59th Avenue and 8th Street just after 8:30 in the morning in daylight.”

Trelles goes inside the station and during a period of just 23 seconds, the crime is committed. A black charger drives up and a suspect is seen on the tape trying to open Trelles’s car door. But it is locked. Within seconds, the criminal retrieves a tool from his car and then smashes a window on Trelles’ car, snatches the purse and takes off.

“Had the door been unlocked and based on the time stamp of the tape you see, it could have been 5 to 10 seconds before this criminal was in and out and gone,” said Andreu.

Trelles said she lost a Gucci purse containing credit cards, a checkbook, car keys, house keys, a cell phone, a gold Parker pen, cash and a special coin that has a great deal of sentimental value.

“This was a gift that my father gave me after the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico,” said Trelles. “My father was an official timekeeper during the swimming competition and he gave me a commemorative peso from the Olympics that has been with me since 1968.”

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“If anyone sees and finds this coin, I would really appreciate it if they would mail it to the West Miami Police Department,” she said. “The cash and credit cards are one thing but this coin has special value to me.”

“I was devastated by this,” she said. “This is a place that is a neighborhood gas station and where everyone knows each other.”

Trelles and Andreu hope the criminals will be caught.

“I hope someone will recognize the car even though you can not see the license plate,” said Trelles. “Somebody is out there and it is not just happening to me. I am told they do this for a living so they might be hitting people all over. I hope they find the two people in the car.”

“I think someone who knows this car or this individual or the manner in which he dresses may be able to recognize him,” said Andreu.

He said the suspect in the black charger was in his teens or early 20s.

Andreu said the same Chevron station had similar car burglaries every three months, in part because of its location of busy S.W. 8th St.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).


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Peter D'Oench