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Written by Francisco Alvarado, BT Contributor   
October 2017

Miami Shores neighbors question police response to Irma break-ins

PShoresCrime_1hotographer Silvia Ros and her spouse, Anne Swanson, ducked out of their Miami Shores home a few days before Hurricane Irma was supposed to make landfall in South Florida. Ros, who is this publication’s principal photographer, says she wanted to avoid missing a work assignment in Chicago scheduled to begin the Monday after the storm would have hit. Before leaving, the couple shuttered the windows of their two-bedroom home, secured the doors, and activated their security alarm system.

At 1:28 a.m. on Sunday, September 10, just as Irma began raking the tri-county region with tropical-storm-force winds, the back door leading into the kitchen swung open, tripping the alarm, and alerting the Miami Shores Police Department, according to an alarm activity report. A Miami Shores Police Department dispatch log shows that two village cops checked on the house 15 minutes later and reported seeing no signs of trouble.

“All windows have hurricane shutters installed,” the log states. “Unable to access side or rear entrance; all gates locked.”

The following morning, Ros called Vivian Lamadrid, a friend who lives down the street, and asked her to check on the property. Lamadrid discovered an unlocked front door and a burglarized house.

“When I went around the back, a mesh covering that Silvia had put on the kitchen door had been removed, and one of the door’s windows was broken,” Lamadrid says. “I also noticed the alarm control panel had been ripped off the wall. They stole her television sets and an iMac computer she uses for work.”

Ros, who didn’t return to Miami Shores until 11 days later, says the break-in raises questions about public safety measures in the village as Hurricane Irma barreled into Florida.

“The thieves walked out my front door with all my stuff,” Ros says. “So you can imagine I’m pretty upset. I don’t know if there’s a case for police negligence, but if there is, I’ll do something about it.”

Indeed, criminals were looking to take advantage of the village during and after the hurricane. In a post on Nextdoor.com, the neighborhood social network, a Miami Shores homeowner reported that he’d confronted a male trespasser in his own back yard the morning of September 10. The trespasser claimed to be looking for car keys and walked off the property before police arrived, Lamadrid says. “I don’t know what happened to the man, but police impounded [his] vehicle.”

And three days later, the police instituted a residential checkpoint to review people’s identification, and extended a curfew, which had begun on September 11, for an additional five days.

Miami Shores Police Chief Kevin Lystad also requested and received a National Guard security detail for the village public works facility after burglars made off with roughly $10,000 in equipment, including a $758 chainsaw and four tree trimmers worth $270 each, from the building at 1701 NW 103rd St. in unincorporated Miami-Dade.

Vice Mayor Sean Brady tells the BT that he was aware of some burglaries of unattended homes and of an attempted break-in involving a burglar who tried to get into a house with a sledgehammer. “But he wasn’t able to get in,” Brady recounts. “One of the people involved has been apprehended, and police are interviewing him.”

ShoresCrime_2Nevertheless, Brady praises the police department’s job performance. “We were very fortunate to have officers working double shifts,” he says. “We didn’t have issues with looting that some neighboring cities had. So far, it doesn’t look like we had a spike in crime.”

Lystad did not return a voicemail asking him to comment on Irma-related home burglaries and Ros’s criticisms. Lamadrid claims that crime in their area has gotten out of hand. She says that two months ago thieves stole a briefcase containing her iPhone, her iWatch, and her iPad from inside her car while she unloaded groceries. “All they left in the backseat was a footprint,” she said. “Another time, I had a little moped that they took from in front of my house.”

Lamadrid suspects a group of teenage boys who aren’t from the neighborhood are targeting their street. “They ride really slow on bicycles and do circles,” she explains. “It’s not the normal way kids ride bicycles.”

In August, Miami Shores Police arrested Trayon Goodman, who is among three men suspected of breaking into 27 cars in the village the previous month. Det. Kerry Turner told WSVN-TV that Goodman and his cohorts broke into 20 cars in one night, including a police cruiser.

The day after the break-in at Ros’s house, George Fahmie, who lives across the street, told a Miami Shores Police detective that he’d seen three black male juveniles in the street near her property around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 10, according to a village incident report. “Fahmie advised that one arrived on foot and the two others arrived on bicycle,” the report states. “Fahmie advised that the subjects had flashlights, but he could not definitively confirm they were on the property.”

Ros’s alarm activity report shows the thieves were in her house for more than an hour. At 2:43 a.m., they walked out the front door. “They took their sweet time,” Lamadrid says.

Ros says she doesn’t believe the officers who initially responded to the alarm inspected the house. She says the police insisted the alarm had been tripped by a tree that fell in the east side of the property. “I knew that couldn’t be right,” Ros says. “They didn’t bother to take a look. The burglars were in my house and the police didn’t do anything.”

Lamadrid says the burglary and the police response have left her spooked. “I lost my power again the Saturday night after the storm,” she says. “I only left one window open and I was waking up every 15 minutes whenever I heard dogs barking. The thieves know there’s no power and that police are slow to respond.”

 

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