Thefts from unlocked cars at neighborhood gas stations and malls run almost neck and neck with stealing the car itself, according to a veteran Miami-Dade Police Kendall District detective.
“Displaying a purse or laptop in a parked car is a plain invitation to become a victim,” Det. Octavio Tellez advised members of the Citizens Advisory Committee at a July 28 meeting.
“That’s a special problem we have at neighborhood gas stations, when a housewife leaves a car unminded, even for just a minute, while paying for pumping gas.”
A veteran of five year’s service in tough urban crime districts before transfering to the Kendall Station, Det. Tellez was credited with tips that assist Kendall District surveillance and nabbing teenagers willing to risk a first-time offense in neighborhood locations.
“Teenage kids will stake out gas stations to watch just for those times, and they’ll be in and out of a car in 15 seconds, even without breaking the window of an unlocked vehicle,” Det. Tellez emphasized.
“My basic advice: Don’t leaving anything in your car that you will miss if it’s stolen,” he advised. “Do what my wife does; the only two things she ever leaves in her parked SUV at a gas station or mall are her sunglasses and a car seat.”
Elevated cameras trained on gasoline pumps and store parking lots “are helping us identify repeaters.” Det. Tellez advises, “You can even mount a fake camera at your house, trained on the area where you regularly park your car. That will discourage the professional thieves who rip off spare tires from SUVs in a matter of seconds, even if not the car itself.”
Honda Accords “still top the list for stolen cars,” he said, noting that new tracking devices that are available on the market “will identify a stolen car location immediately.” They cost about $10 a month, and the equipment is advertised on the Internet.
Kendall’s most watched areas for car thefts are “Bird Road at Tropical Park and shopping areas around The Falls, for the most part,” Det. Tellez said. “But better surveillance cameras that have been installed are helping us better police those areas.”
CRIME AT THE FALLS FOILED THROUGH OFFICER’S DILIGENCE
Kendall District Officer Adrian Ulmer suspected a car driven by two men around The Falls parking garage may have been “casing” parked vehicles, leading to establishing liaison with Bloomingdale’s house security in February.
Later arrest of the subjects disclosed the two Colombian nationals living in Texas possessed marijuana, a switchblade knife, black masks and gloves in their rental car. A federal warrant for robbery had been issued for one subject; both previously had been captured by store video at the Best Buy in the Dadeland Station Mall.
For his initiative in follow-up with the Kendall District Auto Theft unit, Officer Ulmer was named June’s Officer of the Month at the July 29 CAC meeting.