Life Sentences

Forget Hiaasen, Balmaseda, and Steinback -- the Herald's weird, wacky "Police Report" is the prose by the pros

Not only is Miami a sanctuary for con artists, mobsters, and hit men, it is a well-documented haven for such ne'er-do-wells. For years nonfiction chroniclers like John Rothchild and T.D. Allman, along with innumerable novelists, have vividly detailed the hazards of life on the edge of the Everglades. Miami, as author Edna Buchanan tells us, is murder.

But it is also carjacking, criminal mischief, and extortion. And in a community where people turn up -- with phenomenal frequency -- dismembered in corrugated cardboard boxes, these less-glamorous iniquities often escape the attention of the writers, not to mention the TV news crews.

Thank heaven for the Miami Herald.
More specifically, thank heaven for "Police Report," the liveliest regular feature of Florida's foremost daily newspaper, as the Herald likes to call itself. With its single-paragraph parables of crime, served up unleavened and with deliberate understatement, "Police Report" provides a gauge of our community's sociological health. Grittier than any flamingo-and-palm-tree-embossed novel, these bite-size morsels portray day-to-day life in Miami -- the sexual obsessions, the drugs, the awkward assimilation of cultures ...

A man was robbed at knifepoint as he spoke on a public phone at the Amoco gas station in Coral Gables. The victim, 43, said the robber approached him from behind and demanded his property. The victim could not understand exactly what he said because he only speaks Spanish, and the robber only spoke English. Instead, the victim dropped a $5 plastic gas tank with $3 of gasoline and ran through the parking lot, away from the robber, who picked up the property and left the area.

They also provide the novelists a lesson in good writing. Herald reporters scour paperwork at police stations across Dade County, then mold the just-the-facts data into compellingly simple paragraphs suitable for publication. (Victims' names, for instance, are always excised.) Active words energize descriptive first sentences. Setting, conflict, climax, and denouement typically unfold in 30 words or less. All in a format wonderfully free of context or conclusions. What happened: A man stole his friend's car while the friend was suffering an epileptic seizure. Why it happened: Good luck guessing.

The only downside is that the reports appear in the twice-weekly Neighbors section, a seven-headed serpent that chooses its news with a pronounced bias toward the region in which the section is distributed. In other words, the exploits of Homestead's "cigarette bandit" aren't likely to waft up to Surfside, and transgressions related to Miami Beach's famed parking problem seldom get towed into Sweetwater.

More's the pity.
In an effort to unite our disparate communities, New Times undertook the heroic task of reading, for eight months in a row, the "Police Report" columns from all seven Neighbors editions. From this pile of papers we have culled the following one-paragraph portraits of Miami (only lightly edited by us for continuity). Aside from its cumulative literary revelation, the exercise confirmed the conventional wisdom: For assault, robbery, and all-around mayhem that (quietly) pushes lawlessness into groundbreaking new territory, there really is no place like home.

Candid Criminals
A woman spending the night in a Surfside hotel woke up one morning to find a burglar at the foot of her bed sorting through her purse. When she asked what he was doing, he said, "Nothin'. Nothin'." Nothing was taken.

A man smashed the passenger's side window and entered a 1985 Mercedes 300D parked at an office building in Coral Gables, stealing a $350 radio. A witness said he saw the thief "tugging on something" inside the car and asked him, "Hey, what are you doing?" The thief responded: "What does it look like?" The man got into a 1982 Camaro and sped off.

A police officer witnessed two vandals spray-painting graffiti outside the Baymar Ocean Resort in Miami Beach. It was shortly before 4:00 a.m. when the vandals spotted the patrol car heading their way, and the man tried to hide the spray can. The couple then got into a car parked nearby and the man put a can of black spray paint into the back seat as the patrol car pulled up behind them. When the couple got out of the car at the officer's request, the man said, "I don't want trouble, man. We painted that wall." Alexander Valdez, 21 of Hialeah, and Barbara Reyes, 22, of Miami were charged with criminal mischief.

It's Just That Easy
A robber pointed a gun at a man who was walking along NW 79th Street and said, "Give me your money." The victim turned over his wallet, which contained $20 and identification.

A man who had asked to use the restroom at American Honda Finance Corporation in Miami instead went inside the key room and took the keys to a 1994 dark green Acura Legend valued at $25,000 and drove off.

A man entered a 7-Eleven store in North Miami Beach. He went to the counter and pulled the $500 cash register off the counter and walked out. The thief took $30.

Ineffective Security Measures
A man left his Jack Russell terrier to watch over his Huffy bicycle while he went into Miami Shores Jazzercise. When he came out, the dog and the bike were gone.

Somebody stole three firearms from a home near the Broward border. The burglar pried open metal bars and smashed a basement window to get into the residence. He stole a twelve-gauge shotgun and a .22-caliber silver Smith & Wesson. The guns are valued at $1000.

Three men entered a South Dade warehouse through a fence when they were told by a security guard that they could not be there. The men ignored the guard and entered the warehouse. They looked around the building and took pictures. The men left in a gray Lincoln Town Car.

Best Quotes
A strong-arm robber yanked a woman's purse from her as she walked in the parking lot of a convenience store in North Miami Beach. After taking her purse, the robber kicked the woman and said, "Keep moving, shorty." He then jumped in a waiting vehicle.

Two thieves asked a man for a ride. They claimed their truck had broken down and they needed to get to a friend's house to borrow a car. The victim agreed to give them a ride. As they drove along NW 27th Avenue, one of the thieves said the car had a flat tire. The victim said the tires were fine, but decided to stop the car because the thief kept insisting it was flat. When the victim got out of the car and left the engine running, one of the thieves jumped into the driver's seat and said, as he drove away in the bronze 1989 Ford truck, "See you."

Two teens demanded a man's wallet as he walked through the parking lot at a North Dade Publix at midnight. When one of the teens showed the man a knife, he handed over his wallet, which contained $25. The other teen then said "Merry Christmas" before they both ran.

Best Quote (Raymond Carver Memorial Award)
A man wielding a knife swung at a West Miami resident in an attempt to stab him. The two men were arguing about a car the West Miami man sold to the other man days earlier. It had mechanical problems, and the buyer came to complain. After a few minutes of arguing, the buyer pulled out a six-inch knife and swung at the seller. The victim had to jump back to avoid being cut. Before he could swing again, the man with the knife heard police sirens, got into a red Ford Mustang, and sped off. As he did he yelled, "This is not over. This does not stay like this!"

Returning to the Scene of the Crime
"You again," said a woman after the same purse snatcher who assaulted her several weeks ago appeared in her driveway in the 100 block of NE 170th Street at 1:00 a.m. Thursday. "Yes, it's me again," replied the robber, just before he pushed the woman and stole her purse. The woman was not injured. The stolen purse is valued at $100.

A home in Opa-locka was burglarized twice in the same day. After the first burglary the resident left the house to buy wood to secure the side door. While she was gone, burglars broke in through the same door and stole a $250 microwave, an $1800 CB radio, a $100 weed trimmer, $1200 worth of jewelry, $200 in clothing, and $435 in ladies' watches.

Fifteen cars stored at the back of the Surfside post office received free paint jobs thanks to graffiti artists. Employees at a neighboring business saw four people quickly walking away from the area, then noticed the cars, which mail carriers drive, covered in wet paint. Damage was estimated at $15,000. While officers were investigating, the passenger of a white Honda yelled, "I saw the damage and I can't believe somebody would do this!" The passenger then asked if he could take pictures. A moment after the car drove away, a witness identified the passenger as one of the alleged vandals. Police, through the car's license plate, tracked the passenger to Miami. Roldando L. Andrerez, nineteen, was charged with criminal mischief.

Effective Self-Defense
A 71-year-old man drinking a beer on a street corner in Opa-locka scared away two men attempting to rob him by waving the beer bottle in their faces.

A robber pointed a gun at a man standing at the gas pumps at an Amoco station in Naranja. "Don't make me cap you. Give me your money," the robber said. Suddenly another robber sneaked up from behind and tried to remove his wallet, but was unable to because the man's belt was in the way. "Give me your keys," the robber said. "Step away and hand over your wallet." The man then pointed the gas pump on the robber, spraying gasoline on his face. The robber fled. When the man then turned to the other robber, the robber started running into the Modello HUD projects. The man suffered a bruise on his left arm from hitting the gas pumps.

Safety Tip: Don't Leave Everything in Your Car Overnight
Someone broke into a car parked at a home in Hialeah. The burglar smashed the driver's-side window and took a $249 fax machine, a $280 computer printer, a $200 cellular phone, and an $1100 camcorder.

Unsuccessful Negotiations
An $800 cellular phone was stolen out of a 1995 Mercedes-Benz parked in the roadway in South Miami. The car was unlocked and left unattended for a few minutes. The phone was taken from the front passenger seat. When the victim called the phone number, it was answered by a man who identified himself as Omar, who said he got the phone from a friend. The owner tried to arrange for him to give it back, but "Omar" refused.

As a woman was getting into her car in the parking lot of her apartment complex in South Miami, she was accosted by a man who shoved her to the ground and placed a sharp object against her. He then grabbed her purse from her shoulder, pulled her twenty-dollar watch from her wrist, and fled. The woman yelled, "Give me back my purse." Her attacker yelled back, "Shut up."

Successful Negotiation
Armed robbers spared a man his shoes but took his wallet and more than $2200 in jewelry before firing a shot toward him. The man was walking past a parking lot in Hialeah when two men got out of a white 1986 Bonneville with tinted windows and a temporary tag in the rear window. One robber flashed a gun and ordered the man to hand over his wallet and jewelry or he would shoot him. Then he asked for the man's shoes but left without them after the man asked to keep them. As the robbers returned to the car, which was driven by an accomplice, the armed robber fired one shot at the victim but missed. They then drove south on West Fourteenth Avenue.

Weird Booty
Someone pried open a beige 1985 Mazda RX7 parked at a home in the first block of Melrose Drive and stole $240 worth of luggage, eleven Gulfstream Airlines pilot uniforms, four airline headsets valued at $1000, and several flight log books.

Burglars stole a picture of a horse that hung on the bedroom wall of an apartment. The burglars managed to get in through the front door although no signs of forced entry were found. The picture is valued at less than ten dollars.

A burglar stole $150 worth of meats from a shed at a home in unincorporated north central Dade.

After stopping quickly for a pack of cigarettes and a cup of coffee at the One Stop Gas Station in Opa-locka, a man discovered that his $300 bag had been stolen from his car. Also stolen: a $65 calculator. And a urine specimen.

Someone broke into the Sunbelt Ice Cream shop in Norwood. The thief did not take any money but did steal $370 worth of ice cream.

A litter of newborn puppies was stolen from the back yard of a house in North Bay Village. Four ten-year-old boys jumped the fence around 3:00 p.m., grabbed the puppies, then ran into a nearby elementary school.

Burglars broke into the shed of a home in the Redlands and stole a generator worth $1200, a go-cart worth $600, and liquid detergent worth $25.

A painting of Winston Churchill as a child, valued at $25,000, was stolen from an apartment in the 700 block of NE 206th Street. Burglars forced open sliding glass doors to break into the unoccupied apartment. Several other paintings were stolen, as well as a leather couch and four tables.

A thief stole $180 worth of Tylenol, Advil, and Axid from a North Miami convenience store.

Weird Booty (Underwear Division)
After a few days' vacation, a woman returned to her apartment in South Beach to discover a burglar had pried open the front window. The burglar also walked on the sofa and ransacked the apartment before stealing a $40 portable radio, $400 worth of jewelry, and several pairs of underwear.

A man returned to his Surfside home and found a window open and the screen on the floor inside his house. A .357 Magnum valued at $200 was stolen along with several bullets, casings, and underwear.

Weird Booty
(Cold Hard Cash Division)
A thief got away with $400 stolen from Vecchia Brera on Ocean Drive. At closing time Friday night, the manager put the money inside a padlocked freezer, as he usually does. When an employee opened the restaurant the next day, the freezer was still locked but the money was gone.

Brand Loyalty
A woman's $950 Louis Vuitton purse was stolen from the child seat of her shopping cart outside a Winn-Dixie on Key Biscayne. Included in the theft were a $450 Louis Vuitton wallet, a $250 Louis Vuitton key case, a $150 Louis Vuitton checkbook cover, a pair of $150 Ralph Lauren sunglasses, a Cartier business-card holder, a Santos lighter, a pair of Versace sunglasses, a Ralph Lauren leather notebook, a Mont Blanc fountain pen, $150, and numerous credit cards.

Safety Tip: Remove Ruby Stone Clusters Before Exercising
An armed man robbed two 46-year-old women of about $16,000 worth of jewelry as they jogged on South Greenway Drive in Coral Gables. The women were approaching a friend's house when the man surprised them from behind. He pointed a silver-toned semiautomatic pistol at them and said, "Let me have your jewelry or I shoot. I'm sorry, but I have to do this." The gunman was identified as about twenty, wearing jeans, a burgundy jacket, and white sneakers. The victims told police they believed the robber was hiding in the Granada Golf Course. They gave him their jewelry, including a $1500 designer watch, a gold Cartier ring valued at $1800, an 18-karat gold band with fifteen diamonds valued at $4000, a sixteen-inch, 14-karat gold necklace with multiple diamond and ruby stone clusters valued at $3600, and a $3800 diamond-and-sapphire ring. The man then ran toward the Alhambra Circle area, near the water tower. It was not known if he had an accomplice waiting for him in a vehicle.

Innovative Weapons
A frozen egg hit a man in the back of the head as he rode his bicycle in the 1700 block of Drexel Avenue in South Beach. Witnesses saw three men in a black pick-up truck slow down next to the biker, and someone inside threw the egg. When the biker fell down, the three started to get out of the truck, but a large crowd formed and scared them away. The biker was not seriously injured.

Police were called to the Amoco gas station on South Dixie Highway when a man became incensed because the car was not dried properly in the car wash. The man began cursing, then throwing gum and air freshener at the attendant. After the customer was told to come back the next day to speak to the owner, he dumped a rack of potato chips on the ground. No charges were filed.

A woman was robbed by a man whom she was with as they walked through a Goulds neighborhood. The woman had walked a few blocks with the man when the man reached out, placed his left hand on her shoulder, and, putting his finger to her temple, said: "Give me your wallet or I'll shoot you." A neighbor who saw the disturbance outside scared the man off. He did not take anything.

A man threw a bucket of water mixed with urine at a woman in her Miami apartment, then struck her right hand with a stick. Serese Arthur, 46, was charged with burglary and assault.

An elderly man used a ceramic toilet tank cover to bludgeon two other residents of a North Dade retirement home. The man removed the ceramic piece from his bathroom and walked across the hallway to another room. As they slept, the man began to strike the two people in the head. Eventually orderlies were able to restrain the man and sedate him, but not before both victims suffered major head injuries. No reason was given for the attack.

Creative Criminals
A man was robbed at gunpoint in his Florida City home by two men who pretended to be Immigration and Naturalization Service officers. The men were wearing badges and radios and asked if they could enter the home to show the victim some INS documents. Once inside the men brandished a handgun, pointed it at the victim, handcuffed him, and forced him into the bedroom while threatening to shoot him. The two men robbed the victim of $300 in cash, as well as his resident alien card.

Posing as a tour guide, a man distracted a group of Brazilian tourists who were checking into the Dilido Hotel on South Beach. While the group was sorting out the misunderstanding, someone took their bags, which contained a $1000 gold bracelet, a $50 camera, and $160 in cash.

The midnight valet at the Delano Hotel was swindled out of $737. The thief told the valet that the valet's boss had an emergency and needed money from the safe. The valet made a copy of the man's identification card and had the man sign for the money. When the valet's supervisor came in at 6:00 a.m. Monday, he said there was never an emergency and he had not authorized anyone to take money out of the safe.

Stupid Criminals
A would-be robber who couldn't drive a stick shift couldn't steal a car, either. A man was parking his 1996 Honda Accord in Miami when he was approached by a man with a handgun. "Give me all your money," the suspect shouted. When the driver said no, the gunman demanded his car keys instead, only to discover that the Honda was a stick shift, which he couldn't drive. When he told the car's owner to drive, the man locked the doors, locking himself in the car and the burglar out. The frustrated robber shot out the Honda's rear window, then ran away.

A careless forger attempted to cash a $900 check from a stolen checkbook at the South Miami BankAtlantic branch on 6202 S. Dixie Hwy. When the clerk went to verify the check, the man fled the building, leaving behind his own Florida driver's license.

A homeless man dropped a bag he was carrying when a police officer drove past him at night in downtown Miami. When the officer picked up the bag, he found a pair of shoes from a nearby store inside. The officer checked the store and saw it had a smashed window. The burglar said: "I know the law, you didn't see me in the business, so you can't charge me." The officer searched the man and found a homemade pipe with possible cocaine residue in his top left pocket, and the top part of a vehicle sparkplug. Police arrested Eric Macon, 24, no known address, and charged him with burglary, possession of burglary tools, possession of cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A tourist from Las Vegas had just dropped her car off with the valet at the Roney Hotel and was walking into the lobby when a man kicked her on her right ankle and grabbed the purse off her shoulder. Four witnesses saw the attack, chased the thief, and tackled him outside the hotel. When the thief's accomplices, who were waiting in a white Oldsmobile, saw what happened, they tried to run over the witnesses with the car. The witnesses jumped out of the way and the attacker was hit and carried a few feet under the bumper. Someone pulled the attacker inside the car before it sped away.

Stupid Victims
A group of robbers attacked a man who was walking downtown after midnight. They beat the victim with an unknown object and stole $200 from his pants pocket. The victim said he was too drunk to describe them.

A couple was robbed in their Miami Beach apartment. The couple had met the three robbers earlier and invited them up to their apartment, they told police. When the couple went to bed, one of the visitors stuck a gun in the man's side and repeatedly threatened to kill him. The other man and a woman ransacked the apartment before the three left with men's clothing valued at $400, eight compact discs, and $20.

Two men in a blue car fired two shots at another man as he walked along NW Sixth Avenue. The pedestrian, who was unharmed, does not know the reason for the attempt, although he said the same two men attacked him before. In the previous incident one of the two men swung a baseball bat at the man's face, breaking his jaw. The victim did not report the first incident until after the second attack.

Thank Goodness, It's the Police
A man who flagged down a Florida City police officer to get a jump-start for his vehicle was later arrested and charged with possession of cocaine. While the officer was assisting him, Stanley Walter Dylag, 44, was asked several times by the officer to take his hands out of his pockets. When Dylag did, a clear plastic bag containing suspected crack cocaine fell out. Dylag was taken to jail.

A childhood friend tied up, beat, and robbed a tourist from Indiana in a room at the Fontainebleau Hilton Hotel. The tourist met his friend and two other men in the bar before going up to the hotel room. Once inside, one of the robbers pulled out a gun he had been hiding and pointed it at the tourist's head while ordering him to get on the floor. When the tourist protested, the robber hit him across the mouth and cheek with the gun. The three robbers tied the man's hands behind his back with duct tape, placed a piece of tape over his mouth, and unplugged the telephone before rummaging through his pockets and stealing a reported $1500 in cash. When police arrived, they found marijuana scattered around the floor. A police dog was called in, which found more marijuana hidden in the room. The victim, Ivan Santiago, 28, of Gary, Indiana, was charged with possession of marijuana.

Good Samaritans Beware
A woman offered to help a man who had fallen near her car parked in Miami Beach. When the woman asked the man if he was okay, he began kicking her car, then kicked her in the right knee. When the woman ran away, the man chased her until police arrested him.

A man living in a Miami home invited in a man from outside who had been begging for food. The man ate and left. A short while later the homeowner realized his beeper was missing. He found the man on a street corner and asked him for the beeper. The man said he no longer had it but would look for it.

A robber approached a man who was walking along NW Seventeenth Avenue and asked him how to dial a beeper from a pay phone. When the victim walked to the phone to explain, the robber pulled out a chrome revolver, pointed it at him, and demanded his money. The victim said he had none. "Don't play stupid," the robber said. "I saw you. You're going to make me shoot you." The victim turned over $40. Before fleeing in a dark green 1983 Chevrolet Impala, the robber pulled the victim's beeper from his pants.

Bad Samaritans
A 70-year-old disabled man was robbed as he tried to enter the lobby of his Miami Beach apartment building. The robber held the door open for the man, who uses a walker. As he slowly stepped up to the front door, the robber pushed him to the side, took the man's wallet out of his pants pocket, and ran away. Several credit cards and $80 were in the wallet.

A well-dressed lady approached a 95-year-old woman and volunteered to accompany her to a doctor's appointment. When the woman offered the lady a tip for her kindness, the robber noticed a large number of bills in the woman's purse, grabbed it, and ran across the street, where her boyfriend was waiting. The robber got away with $50.

A woman was robbed after she got a flat tire in Coral Gables. As the victim was traveling north on Red Road after leaving Allen's drug store, she got a flat tire and pulled over to the side at Sevilla Avenue. A man appeared out of nowhere and asked her in Spanish if she needed help. He then reached through the window, grabbed her purse, and ran across the street. Stolen: $580 in cash and $300 in Argentine currency.

A man suffered an epileptic seizure while driving with an acquaintance at 2:00 a.m. and pulled over in Little Havana. He asked his acquaintance to keep driving and got out of the car. As he walked around the car to the passenger's side, his acquaintance jumped the center console and sped away north on SW Eleventh Avenue in the victim's light blue 1995 Dodge Neon.

Safety Tip: Don't Be Sassy
A robber pointed a gun at two seventeen-year-old girls at a Burger King drive-through and ordered them to give him their purses. One of the girls shouted an obscenity at the robber and told him to get the gun out of her face. The robber cocked the gun and fired one shot at the passenger door, leaving a bullet mark in the door of their black 1995 Honda Accord. He then fled on foot.

Only in Miami
A home invader burst into an apartment in Bay Harbor Islands shortly after midnight. When the resident answered after hearing a knock on the front door, the robber said, "I'll break your arm and kill you if you don't pay the $21,500 you owe to the people in Venezuela." The intruder then pushed his way into the apartment and started taking jewelry and a gun collection.

An invasion-style robbery took place at the Howard Johnson Hotel, 4000 Alton Rd. As a woman left a hotel room, two men pushed their way into the room. One of the robbers kicked her in the stomach. The other, armed with a .357 Magnum, hit a man inside the hotel room over the head with the gun, then kicked him in the face. All the while, the robbers were yelling, "Where's the dope?" The robbers took $4500 cash from the man's pocket. The front-desk clerk saw the two robbers run out of the hotel and get into a brown Cadillac.

A man was robbed while sitting on the porch of his home in Naranja. A man came up to the porch demanding drugs. The owner said he did not have any. The man left, but returned twenty minutes later with an accomplice who was wearing a white skullcap. Both men confronted the homeowner with handguns. The robbers forced him inside, and one of them said to lie facedown. The robbers ransacked the home but found no drugs. They took two wallets from the victim and fled.

A robber with a broken leg stole $5.45 from a man sitting in a wheelchair outside Eckerd Drugs, 7400 Collins Ave. The robber allegedly used one of his crutches to restrain the man by the chin and took the money out of the man's pocket. Police found a man fitting the description about a block away. Donald Anthony Smith, 33, was charged with strong-arm robbery.

Random Acts of Violence
While walking through a parking lot in South Beach on a Sunday afternoon, a woman hit a man on the face with a bottle for no apparent reason. The man and the woman did not know each other.

A bloody man wearing nothing but a towel around his waist and holding a stereo receiver was caught inside Fun Tours in Miami Beach. Early on a Tuesday morning, a security guard called police when he heard glass break. The officers followed a path of blood from a broken rear window, through a hallway into an employee area, out a door, and into a pump room. That's where they found the alleged burglar, as well as the stereo receiver covered with blood. Police then found a second trail of blood leading to the restaurant next door. The hasp latch had been broken off the refrigerator door. The burglar helped himself to some of the food and "made a mess" of the refrigerator. He also drank from and broke a bottle of burgundy.

Police were called to the South Miami Market by a woman who said she was approached by another woman asking her for five dollars. When she refused, the woman slapped her across the face. No arrest was made.

A woman called South Miami police and said a group of juveniles had entered her home and were beating her with a stick. When police arrived they found the woman on her front lawn, stumbling around and yelling toward the sky. When police asked her what was wrong, she responded: "With who?" She began to cause a scene, drawing people out of their homes, yelling at police. Gerdhilde Albrand, 63, was escorted to the South Miami police station and charged with filing a false police report and disorderly intoxication.

The Occasional Murder
A newborn kitten was mauled by two dogs who got into a house through an open door. The dogs, which had been running loose through the neighborhood, were captured by animal control.

Someone killed a rabbit in a cage in the front yard of a house in Coral Gables. The suspect removed the rabbit from the cage and cut its head off with a sharp object. Then the body of the rabbit was thrown across the street. The rabbit's head was not found.

A dead duck and another barely alive were found on the lawn of a home in North Miami. The homeowner believes the ducks were poisoned by corn kernels left on the driveway. Several kernels were impounded for testing.

Customer Service
A clerk at a Florida City Texaco refused to exchange a soda that two young boys, both under twelve, brought to the store. The clerk shouted at them to leave and waved a gun at them. The clerk, 31, was charged with assault with a firearm.

An employee of the Normandy Supermarket in Miami Beach allegedly kicked a man in the buttocks. The two had been arguing inside the store. When the man turned around to leave, the employee followed him and kicked him while yelling at him in Spanish.

An employee at Cocofresco in South Beach allegedly slapped a customer at about 10:40 p.m. Wednesday. The customer, who was buying a drink, had pointed out that the employee had incorrectly rung up the price.

An employee of Gold Electronics on South Beach allegedly hit two customers. The tourists were picking up pictures they had left to be developed. When the tourists complained that the employee was being rude, the employee pushed one of the tourists and punched the other in the mouth.

The Customer Strikes Back
A waitress at the Latin Food Cafe in South Beach was punched in the face when she asked a patron to pay his four-dollar bill. The man then left the restaurant. A man fitting his description was arrested nearby and charged with robbery.

A man walked into Lucy Supermarket in Homestead, punched the store manger in the chin, and ran off.

A worker at Blockbuster Video in South Miami stopped a man after he had walked out of the store and the alarm went off. The worker asked the man to re-enter the store. The man refused. The worker asked again, the man said no again but walked back in, slapped the worker in the face with the palm of his hand, got into his car, and left, driving north on U.S. 1. The alarm, however, did not set off when the man re-entered the store.

Those Alluring Females!
A man met a woman at a gas station in Leisure City at about 1:30 a.m. Monday. The woman invited the man back to her place for drinks, but instead took him to an abandoned house where three men robbed him of his jewelry.

A woman who gave her name as Rosie robbed a man who invited her to his apartment in Miami Gardens. The man had met the woman earlier that night at a nightclub. The last thing he told police he remembered was watching a movie with the woman in his bedroom. He believes she slipped something in his drink, rendering him unconscious. When he woke up the next morning, the woman was gone. Missing were $900, a $1000 check made out to cash, a cellular phone, and his wallet.

Sore Losers
A man bit another on the back and on the upper lip, causing him to need stitches and possibly plastic surgery, after he became enraged over a gambling loss of two dollars. The incident occurred Tuesday afternoon at an apartment in Homestead. The victim was taken to Homestead Hospital by a friend.

A sore loser beat up the winner of a pool game around 4:30 a.m. Thursday. The two men had been playing pool inside Lucky's, 1969 71st St. When the game was over, the winner walked out. The loser followed him out and threatened him "because he didn't like losing," then punched him in the face while three other men held the winner's arms. Once the winner was on the ground, the loser kicked him in the head and body.

Good Excuses
A burglar was caught as he left a Coral Gables office building with a television set about 3:30 a.m. Ofcr. Eugene Gibbons was dispatched to the office building when the alarm went off. He walked into the rear courtyard and saw a man carrying a large white television set. Once the man saw the officer, he put the TV down behind a plant and tried to hide. The officer asked him what he was doing and the man said, "I work here and this is my TV." He could not produce identification. Another officer went inside and found the door to one of the suites kicked in with significant damage to the frame. Ramiro Rodriquez, 31, was charged with burglary and theft.

Miami police saw a man carrying an armful of new construction equipment along Biscayne Boulevard at 4:45 a.m. When the man saw police, he tried to hide the items behind his back and said he did not know where he got the items. Police found a glass cocaine pipe with crack cocaine in his front left pocket. Police arrested Harold Mann, 30, and charged him with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of cocaine, theft, and loitering and prowling.

Safety Tip: Beware of Small Talk
While two women walked on a downtown Miami sidewalk, a robber said, "What's up?" grabbed one woman's gold necklace valued at $300, and ran off.

The Ongoing Miami Beach Parking Problem
The driver of a 1997 Ford Escort became irate when he was told he couldn't park his car in the loading zone of a building in the 600 block of Collins Avenue because of construction. When the driver got out of his car, he took a board out of a pick-up truck parked nearby and started beating the man who told him not to park in the loading zone. The man tried to defend himself with a shovel, but the driver wrested it from him before getting back into the Escort. Police stopped the driver before he was able to get away.

A parking meter officer was attacked as he issued a ticket for an illegally parked pick-up truck. One of the attackers threw something at the officer, hitting him in the chest, while the other attacker got back into the truck and tried to back over the officer. When another meter parking officer tried to stop the attackers, they again got out of the truck and one bumped the first officer with his chest and flailed his arms in the air while yelling profanities. The attackers got back into the truck and started to speed away, but were stopped by police.

While writing a ticket, a parking enforcement officer was hit by a car driven by an angry motorist. The parking enforcement officer was citing a black Porsche that was illegally parked on Washington Avenue. When the driver returned, he was told about the ticket. When the officer leaned down to read the decal number on the license plate, the driver got into the car and backed up, knocking the officer down. The driver then sped away. The parking enforcement officer was not seriously injured.

No One Is Immune
Thieves stole a clock and clipboard from a security cart that patrols an apartment complex in unincorporated Dade near North Miami. The cart was left alone while the security guard who drives it was checking the area on foot. The clock is valued at $500.

A $1000 four-door 1979 Buick Park Avenue was found in an open field in Florida City. The car had been stolen from the Hialeah Police Department.

Truly Petty Crime
Someone set fire to a wooden sign in the lobby of the North Miami city library.

Someone threw an egg through the open window of a home in South Miami. No arrest was made.

A witness saw a man steal a piece of wood stored under the Miami Beach boardwalk. The piece of plywood was valued at $35.

Harrowing
Two robbers pointed guns at a man who was stopped at an intersection in Northeast Miami and ordered him to lie down inside the car. The robber then got inside the car, sat on top of the victim, and drove the car near the first block of NE 46th Street. They tied his hands and feet and put a sheet over his head, tortured and pistol-whipped him, demanding $15,000 to $20,000 to let him go. When one of the robbers took out a hot iron, the victim broke free and fled on foot, and saw both robbers fleeing in his silver 1994 Isuzu truck with his black wallet, Citizen watch valued at $125, and gold bracelet worth $200.

A man was pistol-whipped and abducted at the intersection of NW First Court and 62nd Street. Two men approached the victim; one man took a .38 caliber revolver and started to hit the victim with it, then threw him into the truck of his own car. They then drove around in the car for several hours before abandoning it and witnesses heard the victim calling for help.

Incomplete Reports
A grandmother was hit over the head with a piece of wood while she was walking with her five-year-old grandson in Miami Beach. The child's mother parked her Ford Bronco near where the 75-year-old woman and the boy were walking and demanded the woman give back the boy. When the grandmother refused, the boy's mother hit her over the head, grabbed the boy, and sped away. The grandmother was not seriously injured.

A man woke up after a night on the town to discover he was locked inside the bathroom at the South Florida Arts Center. An employee arrived at the center shortly before 7:00 a.m. Sunday and heard a noise coming from the second floor restroom. When he walked in, he heard a man kicking the door. The trapped man said he was locked in and wanted out. The man said he did not know how he got into the building or how long he had been locked in. He told police the last thing he remembered was being in a bar on Washington Avenue. Damage to the bathroom stall door was estimated at $150.

Nothing Is Sacred
A statue of the Virgin Mary was stolen from the front yard of a home in north central Dade. The homeowner had had the two-foot statue, valued at $50, for 30 years.

It Could Have Been Worse
Two skinny-dippers had their wallet and purse stolen while swimming at the Fifteenth Street beach at 3:05 a.m. When they returned, their clothes remained where they had left them, but the wallet and purse, which contained about $300 in cash, were gone.

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