By Peter D'Oench

Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter 

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The search is on for a suspected car hopper and some of his crimes were caught on camera.

Surveillance tape captured the suspect casually approaching a 2016 Kia Soul hatchback. Police said he entered it and ransacked the vehicle on January 2nd.

The man who owns the car – Chris- who did not want to give his full name said over the phone, “It’s so horrible, especially that it was right after the holidays. We wake up to go have breakfast as a family and we noticed that the car was ransacked inside.”

Miami-Dade Police said there is a common modus operandi.

“You see that he walks up and he’s basically checking the door to see which car has been left unlocked and that’s a common practice that these burglars are doing,” said Det. Alvaro Zabaleta with Miami-Dade Police. “It avoids them having to do the extra work of breaking the glass, trying to pry open the door and mess with the door locks.”

The man caught on video is known by police as a car hopper – a person who often unlocks dozens of unlocked vehicles in neighborhoods in the middle of the night looking for valuable items.

When asked what was taken from the car, Chris said, “that was the funny thing. They just did it for mysterious reasons. I mean they just opened it up, tossed everything inside and they didn’t steal anything from any of the cars.”

But it’s about the small items said Det. Zabaleta.

“You’re mainly going to find small items. You’re going to find cellphones in there, iPads, mini i-Pads. You’re going to find jewelry, so all different types of things, weapons. If they find a firearm then they hit the goldmine because of course, that’s what the criminals use to commit these crimes is of course a stolen gun.”

Police said there’s been a sharp increase in car hopping in South Florida in the past four years.

As for Chris, he has advice for others.

“Keep your cars locked at all times. Make sure that you put the alarms on,” said Chris.

To add to that, Det. Zabaleta said, “Let’s not make it easy on the burglars.”


Peter D'Oench