Crime a hot topic at Village Council Meeting
“If the time comes that you think I am not doing a good job, let me know,” said Police Chief Charles Press.
He was responding to persistent questioning about recent crimes in Key Biscayne by councilmember Luis Lauredo late into the night after hours of moving through a packed agenda at the August 27 village council meeting.
“No, no, you are doing a great job,” reassured Mayor Mike Davey and others on the dais. Davey tried to referee the seemingly caustic insinuations from Lauredo who said he was frustrated that since returning from weeks off island, he has been inundated with complaints from residents on crime related issues.
Suggesting that the crime issue might be underestimated, Lauredo said “people are asking me, where are the patrols?”
Concerns surfaced at the meeting about recent high profile criminal activity, including a home burglary in the last month, two separate incidents of cars being stolen from residents’ driveways, and other cars broken into.
The most recent victim of a stolen car told the council that on August 26 at 3:30 am her 2018 BMW was stolen from her fenced in driveway on Mashta Drive. She said this was the second time in a year she had been victimized- earlier this year her car window had been smashed and computers stolen from inside the vehicle.
“Later we learned the car that took them to our house was four colored guys in there for three hours in a stolen car, how can a car like that go around the key for three hours,” said the apparently distressed resident.
“I am asking for your help because we need to do something, we need to prevent crimes, we are going to have a tragedy here,” the resident said.
Chief Press later told the Council that the perpetrators drove around the key for 25 to 35 minutes before speeding off onto the causeway but he did not want to confront an upset resident to clarify the time frame.
Responding to questions from Councilmember Katie Petros on why the License Plate Reader (LPR) scanning car tags entering the key didn’t alert the police to the stolen car being driven in by the car thieves, Press said that while the LPR was triggered by the stolen plate on the car, the information was not transmitted to officers because of a glitch resulting from a repair to the equipment after a lighting strike.
Chief Press went on to explain that his officers saw the stolen car on the key travelling at a high rate of speed, but were not allowed to chase because of department policy. “The policy was put into place because innocent people die,” he said, referencing a case in Miami Beach when a young mother and innocent bystander was killed in a non-violent police car chase.
Rather, the officers sent out a countywide “Be on the Lookout” or BOLO. Miami police officers identified the vehicle leaving Key Biscayne, but were likewise unable to chase per internal policy.
Lauredo questioned the veracity of that policy suggesting perhaps a chase may have been in order.
“The suspects in the auto theft were spotted yesterday in Ft. Lauderdale and after a brief chase, all four were taken into custody,” said Press.
He also explained that what he believes is happening is part of an international car theft ring whereby the kids who stole the vehicles are just a small part of a more insidious crime racket affecting Miami Dade County at large.
“We need to be tougher on crime prevention,” said Lauredo.
Chief Press rejected the assertion that there was any crime wave. “We were the safest city in Florida last year, and second the year before, and have been in the top five for the past few years.”