Community News - Latest

South Miami-Dade

Police say crooks stole $1.5 million in air conditioning equipment

Eight men were arrested last week in connection with the theft of air-conditioning equipment valued at more than $1.5 million from construction sites in south Miami-Dade, county police said.

The investigation began a year ago, when authorities recovered an air-conditioning unit that had been stolen from a housing development.

Police said two of the people arrested were stalking new housing developments to steal their air-conditioning equipment. The suspects stole units at Isles at Bayshore in Cutler Bay, Isles at Oasis in Homestead, and Grand Lakes Estates and Kendall Square in West Kendall. All four are Lennar subdivisions.

Three others were accused of buying stolen goods. Police didn’t explain the role of the others.

The police press release says that the total cost of the equipment amounts to $1.5 million, but does not say how many units were stolen.

A police video captured the moment in which, at full daylight, Ariel Pérez Estupiñán, 37, and Mahe Batista, 34, entered four residencies located on Southwest 93rd Street, according to the arrest report. With a lever and a drill, the suspects removed the air-conditioning units inside and outside the houses and took them away.

The total value of those units was nearly $20,000.

The arrest report of José Miguel Ortiz, 43, says he bought an air-conditioning unit valued at $4,800 from Pérez Estupiñán for only $1,000. Ortiz later confessed to the police that the unit was stolen and he was arrested.

Another buyer was Orlando Noriega, 41. The police reached him through a GPS device planted in the unit. Noriega told the police he had bought the unit, valued at about $8,000, for $1,600 cash from an unknown person on the street. Noriega did not have a receipt and told the police that he believed the unit had been stolen.

It seems that they also used the residencies of others to store the stolen units.

While watching Pérez Estupiñán, a Miami-Dade police detective saw Alejandro Llanes, 46, receiving an air-conditioning unit that Pérez Estupiñán had just stolen from the Isles at Bayshore. Llanes stored the unit, worth $5,000, in his garage.

The police arrested him on Sept. 17.

Pérez Estupiñán and Batista have been charged with third-degree grand theft, burglary, criminal mischief, and possession of burglary tools. Batista is also charged with cocaine possession.

Llanes, Noriega and Ortiz each face one charge of third-degree theft.

The police have not made public the roles of three other arrested persons — Nelson León Borges, 40, Pablo Rafael Mesa Barquín, 40, and José Antonio Alvarado, 52.

The Miami-Dade and Cutler Bay police conducted the investigation in collaboration with the Hialeah police and the state attorney’s office.

Read more Community News - Latest stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK