Miami-Dade County’s Crime Suppression Unit began using undercover agents Wednesday to patrol Cutler Bay’s residential neighborhoods after a streak of daylight home burglaries last week.
From 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the home of Yaomara Rodríguez, a mother who lives with her family in west Cutler Bay, was vandalized and about $3,000 worth of appliances and jewelry was stolen.
“It can’t be that I go to work and when I come back I find that I have been robbed this way,” Rodríguez said. “My concern is not only about material things but the fact that the intimacy of my home has been violated. We really feel unprotected, and I am not the only victim.”
Three houses from Rodríguez’s, in the home of another family on the same block, about $3,500 of electrical appliances and jewelry was stolen on Dec. 3 in the same way: entering the backyard, destroying the glass of a window or door to break in, and searching the house for jewelry and other valuables.
The home of another family a block away was burglarized on Dec. 4, also during the day. The family, which has asked not to be identified due to fear of retaliation, said that $2,000 in personal property was stolen, including two cellular phones that emit location signals.
“We told this to the Cutler Bay police that came to report the theft,” said one of the victims, “but they didn’t seem to consider the importance of this information to locate them.”
That same victim showed an El Nuevo Herald reporter that until Tuesday night one of the stolen cellular was still flashing a signal with its location a few blocks from the neighborhood. The information was given to the police on Wednesday.
The most recent statistics report from the Cutler Bay police indicates that there have been 202 residential and business burglaries from January tthrough November.
Nationally, most burglaries go unsolved. Police identify the offender only in about 13 percent of burglaries, according to FBI data.
Cutler Bay Detective A. Rodríguez said that the streak of burglaries in that town was also affecting neighbors in the area from Southwest 224th Street to Old Cutler Road.
“What the thieves are doing is stealing jewelry they don’t necessarily sell at pawn shops but to gold buyers,” Rodríguez said. “Many times these buyers only keep the jewelry a couple of weeks and then melt it without leaving any trace of the stolen item.”
Cutler Bay Town Manager Ralph Casals-Muñoz said the increase in thefts usually happens during the year-end holidays, and they have reinforced patrols at commercial areas.
Casals-Muñoz added that the police are also identifying patterns and trends of burglaries in specific residential areas.
“This strategy has allowed us to catch thieves, for example, at the Lakes by the Bay residential area about five months ago,” Casals-Muñoz said. “But that was possible because neighbors started reporting strange movements of people and vehicles in their neighborhoods.”
Yaomara Rodríguez urged the Cutler Bay police to prioritize crime investigations rather than writing tickets for minor traffic violations.
“The police usually hide in these streets to write tickets to those who run a red light,” Rodríguez said. “But what is needed is that they investigate the burglaries. I’m saying this not for my own sake but so that other people won’t go through what I am experiencing.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the timely intervention of a relative of Rodríguez’s scared off two suspects who were prowling in open daylight around another house on the same block whose owners were at work.
Several police officers rushed to the scene and received photos of the suspects taken by one of the neighbors.