For more than a year now, police say, a man has been breaking into homes in Coral Gables and Miami occupied only by women, standing over them and staring until they wake up and he takes off.
In one of the first encounters, he sexually assaulted a woman, police say. It’s the only time, police believe, in the dozen or so homes he’s hit that he’s been that bold. But they fear his exploits could escalate.
“Usually a suspect gets a little more bold after each event. You’re going to always push the envelope,” said Miami Detective Freddie Burden.
Police have descriptions and forensics that link the dozen or so crimes — but little else to go on. A few months ago Miami, Coral Gables and Miami-Dade police joined forces and created a task force with the sole goal of capturing the man. A rendering of the suspect shows few remarkable traits, other than bushy eyebrows. He usually wears a hoodie, and is believed to be in his 20s or early 30s.
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Coral Gables police say they have enough evidence to lock up the suspect, but fear he could have gone into hiding since police departments in Coral Gables and Miami went public with the sketch two weeks ago. The information was released after police determined that the same man who broke into two homes this month also sexually assaulted a woman a year ago.
“Guess who also watches the media,” said Coral Gables Police Spokeswoman Kelly Denham. “The bad guys.”
All the break-ins have taken place in Coral Gables and in Miami, not far from where it borders the Gables to the north. Coral Gables police have identified six instances in which they say the man entered homes and stood staring at women until they woke up.
The first home invasion in the Gables — the boldest by far — happened in June 2014. It was about 3:30 a.m. when a man wearing a ski mask entered a home on Menores Avenue through an unlocked window. He told the victim he had a knife, sexually assaulted her, then fled.
Miami police say there have been about a half-dozen home break-ins in their city. The first dates back to April 2014, two months before the sexual assault in Coral Gables. All the Miami break-ins took place between 27th and 47th avenues, West Flagler and Northwest 11th streets. Almost every encounter took place early in the morning while it was still dark out.
In one instance, a woman woke up and found a man standing next to her bed. When she called police, he fled. In another instance, a woman asleep on a couch woke up to a similar scene. The suspect took off when she confronted him.
Anyone with information should call the Miami Police Department’s burglary unit at 305-603-6030, or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers, at 305-471-8477.