By Peter D'Oench

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) — In a CBS4 News exclusive, surveillance video of a brazen burglar in Southwest Miami-Dade is leading to a safety alert as the holidays approach.

South Miami Police Chief Rene Landa is warning about an expected surge in burglaries this holiday season.

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“At this time of year, as people do more shopping, it is very important to get the word out to not leave anything of value in your car,” explained Chief Landa to CBS4’s Peter D’Oench.

A security camera inside the UPS Store at 6619 South Dixie Highway shows what happened just before 10:30 p.m. on November 13.

The video, Landa says, clearly shows a man pulling up in his vehicle and parking right next to the victim’s car. It happens in less than 45 seconds as she is inside the UPS store.

Landa says you can see the man, who is wearing a hoody, watching people as they walk by and then breaking the glass on the passenger side of the woman’s car, stealing her purse and then driving away.

“This is what we have been seeing the last few years and we tell people to not leave their valuables in the car even if the door is locked because you can see what happens in less than 45 seconds as she was inside the store behind a glass window where you can see outside.”

Landa added, “In this type of situation if you are going to leave your purse, place it on the floor out of sight and lock your doors. If it is dark, make sure you park in a well-lit area. We have seen this crime happening over and over again but now we see a spike coming.”

This is a Miami-Dade police case but since it happened next to South Miami, Chief Landa wanted to get the word out. Since he has been Police Chief, he has been very pro-active in alerting the public about these crimes while trying to curb them.

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He believes this criminal has struck before.

“To do a crime like this in broad daylight in a parking lot with cars all around and people walking all around, this person is pretty brazen to do something like this and this is not the first time he has done something like this.”

At the UPS store, Maribel Rodriguez, a customer from Key Biscayne, said  “This is terrible what is going on nowadays. This is just terrible. Nobody cares about anybody. This is just terrible. Never leave a bag in the car or anything you can see. Be very careful with yourself and your belongings.”

Robin Zagorski, a customer from Coral Gables, said “I feel threatened. Everybody needs to be careful. We need to prosecute them. I try not to have anything in plain sight and make sure no one is around me.”

Landa said this crime was more violent than what he has seen in some cases in South Miami where so-called “car hoppers” often work in packs and break into cars that are unlocked in the middle of the night, quite often between 3:00 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. They are usually young people and some of them are vagrants. They usually go from car to car looking for unlocked vehicles and if they are locked, they often move to the next vehicle.

”They often don’t like to break in to cars and smash windows because they don’t want to leave more of their DNA behind,” he said. Landa has warned about the prevalence of car hoppers ever since he became Police Chief.

Landa has said car hoppers often rummage through vehicles looking for loose change and cash, laptops, phones and even umbrellas.

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Landa said there is a limited description of the man in the hoody. If you can help find him, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).

Peter D'Oench