By Joan Murray

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HALLANDALE BEACH (CBSMiami) — The search is on for a group of crooks who terrorized a family in their Hallandale Beach home overnight, and Tuesday evening one of those victims is telling his story.

“They said they were looking for a burglar that had been next door,” Mateo Castro said.

It was the start his nightmare.

“They told me to shut up and kicked me and dragged me next to my mother,” he said.

As he tried to calm his mother, he said the robbers forced his dad upstairs to the safe where they stole jewelry.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Castro said. “I didn’t know what was gonna happen.”

Another family member, Pablo Castro, lives only a few blocks away.  He says his father had just arrived home from his check-cashing business when the suspected burglars showed up. He says his father was likely followed.

“People start knocking on the door claiming they are the police. They are doing a search so my mom – scared – opened the door. It seems to be the police. They were wearing guns like the big rifles,” Pablo Castro said. “They had the gun to my dad’s head, my brother, a rifle to his head and to my mom too.”

Pablo Castro said the men tied up everyone and took valuables. Once they left, his dad  reportedly called him and ran for help.

“He was still tied up with the huge zip ties,” said security guard Jerry Paskowitz who found the father panicked after the incident. “He was pretty hysterical. He was frantic and worried about his family.”

Police at the scene said they caught a lucky break after one of the things they took was the victims iPhone which helped investigators track it down to a West Park neighborhood at SW 47th Avenue and SW 38th Street – about 5 miles away from the home where the incident occurred.

“I was lucky to have my dad’s phone on ‘Apple Find My iPhone’ so we were able to locate the guys or the suspects,” said Pablo Castro.

Police found a car that fit the description of the getaway car.

Hallandale Police spent the morning looking for clues and collecting what looked like more evidence.

A neighbor said the car didn’t belong there. The homeowner wouldn’t go on camera but said the car was dumped at her front yard and she knows nothing about the burglary.

Luckily, nobody was hurt in the incident.

As for a description of the bandits,  Paskowitz said, “I didn’t really get any details except that they were three guys. They had polo shirts on with police insignias and he saw a white four door car which he said looked like a police car.”

Anyone with information in the case is urged to call Broward County Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS.


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