Red light cameras along Northwest 36th Street have put a lot of traffic violation money into the city’s coffers during the last couple years, but last week images helped lead to the arrest of a man wanted for allegedly robbing a Miami Springs couple.
Miami Springs Detective Ray Tamargo and Crime Suppression Team (CST) officers Jason Hall and Gonzalo Garcia arrested Douglas Robert Little, 42, of Miami, at his home and charged him with burglary of a vehicle, battery, theft and cocaine possession.
Little is the suspect in a Sept. 15 strong-arm robbery of a senior couple at South Royal Poinciana Boulevard and East Drive.
According to a report, Joe and Rosario Cardini were coming home from the Miami Jai-Alai Casino when they stopped for a red light around 5:30 a.m. and a man got into the back seat of their car.
The man grabbed Rosario’s purse, which was on the center console, and both of the Cardinis tried to hold on to the bag. The senior couple and the robber got into a hand-and-arms slapping match until the robber got possession of the purse, jumped into his white van and fled north into Hialeah. Neither of the victims required medical attention.
The purse contained identification, credit cards, a small amount of cash, a cell phone and an expensive watch.
The case was assigned to Tamargo and he thought it was possible that the couple was followed from the casino, so he began reviewing images from red light cameras. Two cameras showed the Cardinis’ vehicle being followed closely by a white van with a black mark below the left tail light.
Tamargo used two images of the van to make wanted flyers and distributed them to several police agencies. The method had worked in the past and it was again successful. On Oct. 1, a detective with the Miami-Dade County Robbery Unit spotted the van parked at the Jai-Alai Casino and called Tamargo, who went to the scene and photographed the vehicle, particularly a sticker near the left tail light.
When Little left the casino, he was pulled over by a Miami-Dade County officer for having an expired tag and arrested for having an invalid driver’s license.
“I questioned him at the station and showed him photos of the van,” said Tamargo. “He admitted driving the van at the time of the robbery but became evasive when asked for details. I had to let him go.”
Tamargo ran a background check on Little and learned that he had an extensive criminal record and had spent time in prison. The victims where shown a photo lineup and identified Little as the robber.
The detective then checked a pawn shop database and learned that Little had pawned Rosario Cardini’s watch and the transaction was on video.
“The man I talked to had handled the transaction,” said Tamargo. “He said Little was a regular customer. The watch will eventually be returned to the victim.”
Further investigation turned up information that Little had used Cardini’s credit cards to pay bills and make purchases. Tamargo had enough evidence, so he and two CST officers arrested Little in his front yard. During questioning, Little denied everything.
“If not for the red light cameras, I wouldn’t have had anything to start with,” said Tamargo. “The van had a distinctive sticker on the back and the flyers helped me find the vehicle.”
“Tamargo did a great job,” said Detective Lt. Steve Carlisle. “He goes above and beyond what he has to do. It was his idea to check the red light cameras. They have become a very useful tool in solving crimes.”
“Little had cocaine in his pocket when I arrested him,” said Tamargo. “He might have a substance abuse problem in addition to a gambling problem and that could be why he’s robbing people.”