Village of Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press didn’t mince words earlier this week when he said, “There are more arrests coming.”
Thursday, Islander News obtained details in several arrest reports stemming from the latest apprehensions connected to what appears to be a growing problem with juveniles stealing golf carts for joy rides and, in some cases, resulting in extensive damages.
Six juveniles are now facing charges, including one of third-degree grand theft. Two of the golf carts, valued in the $3,500 range, have not been located. At least two are damaged.
As Press pointed out earlier, several of the kids involved don’t actually live on the island (three are from Kendall, Miami Beach and Coral Gables) but they often are invited by residents.
In the case of the grand theft arrest, that incident took place on the evening of March 30, when Emerald Bay staff at the Key Colony condos provided surveillance video to police showing two males between the ages of 15 and 20. According to the police report, Officer Hernández recognized one of the males from a previous investigation. He admitted to the theft and was arrested April 7. That cart has not been located.
On April 14, Officer Hernández observed a juvenile driving an E-Z-GO golf cart in a reckless manner at midnight on Fernwood Road. According to the police report, the juvenile screamed, “I’m not drunk!” He then proceeded to run onto the sidewalk, crashing into a mailbox and fleeing into bushes at Village Green Park, where Officer Ugalde apprehended him. Later that day, the owner reported a golf cart was stolen from his E. Enid Drive residence, and the boy was charged with trespassing of an unoccupied structure or conveyance.
On April 15, a juvenile who was eligible for a civil citation also was arrested on trespassing charges after he and another person were spotted on a closed-circuit surveillance camera in a Key Colony garage on Crandon Boulevard. At approximately 8:30 p.m. on March 30, they drove off with a $3,500 golf cart, which has yet to be located.
On April 15 and 18, two arrests were made in connection with a March 6 incident in which Officer Ugalde spotted a group of juveniles on a golf cart at 11:08 p.m. backing out of an E. Enid Drive residence. All quickly fled on foot, but Ugalde detained one male juvenile seated in the rear. He said the cart was started with an unknown tool and didn’t want to drive because he was drunk, according to the police report.
Three days later, the driver was located at his school and contact was made with his parents, as has been done after each of these arrests. Both were charged with trespassing of an unoccupied structure or conveyance after the cart owner refused to press charges.
Another arrest was made on April 18, stemming from an incident that resulted in an injury to one of the joy riders. At 12:30 a.m. on April 4, a 15-year-old girl was ejected off the rear of a golf cart after the driver lost control and crashed it in Village Green Park. According to the police report, others who were on the scene carried her to her mom, who took her to the hospital for medical treatment.
The stolen cart was located in the 400 block of Fernwood Road with extensive damage. The arrest report notes that the injured girl and her sister described the driver as a 14-year-old male, who had apologized to them. On April 16, his parents surrendered their son to police.
Chief Press pointed out that parents need to get a handle on their child’s whereabouts and who they are with, especially in the late evening hours. A police record can hurt a child’s future, whether it’s getting a job or getting into a good college, for instance.
“We should be the last resort any parent wants for their kids,” Press said.