Cell Trackers, Plate Readers, and Sheer Stupidity Help Bust SoBe Armed Robbers

Cell Trackers, Plate Readers, and Sheer Stupidity Help Bust SoBe Armed Robbers
photos via Miami-Dade Corrections; montage by David Cypkin/rakontur

Three weeks ago, Miami Beach Police rolled out a crime-fighting initiative aimed at stemming a tide of robberies in South Beach, and they've had some recent success. Some of the arrests may be due to beefed-up manpower and squads of detectives working longer hours (with overtime benefits, of course.)

But a review of the arrest reports from those cases also makes it abundantly clear that the suspects weren't exactly criminal masterminds.

In many cases, the robbers' plans apparently involved driving to South Beach, waving guns at the first people they saw, and then taking their phones, cash, and credit cards. But many were tripped up because they didn't exactly decide what to do afterward. 

Others appeared to be blissfully ignorant of recent advances in cell-phone and crime-fighting technology. And in at least one case, a weakness for a late-night meal at McDonald's might have led to an arrest.

Cell-Phone Tracking

Last Friday, Beach robbery detectives arrested 22-year-old Ahmaad Hodges and 19-year-old Capleton Edwards, who police say beat and robbed two women in the early-morning hours of July 8 near Third Street and Meridian Avenue. One of the women was knocked unconscious.

Their take? Some miscellaneous property and a cell phone.

Hodges and Edwards are now sitting in jail facing charges that could net them decades in prison because apparently neither had ever heard of the iPhone's Find My iPhone app.

From the arrest report:

Victim's cell phone was tracked via Find My iPhone application to the [Broward County] residence of the defendant [Edwards]. Detectives conducted surveillance and observed the vehicle matching the description provided by the victim.

Detectives continued to conduct surveillance and observed two black males matching the description of the subjects enter the vehicle. Detectives noticed victims cell phone was now tracking with the vehicle.

Detectives conducted a traffic stop. As detectives approached the vehicle, detectives sent an alert to the victim's cell phone. Victim's cell phone was heard and located in the possession of defendant. Routine driver's license check was conducted and revealed the defendant's drivers license was expired over six months. Defendant was arrested.

Inventory of vehicle revealed a small clear plastic baggie containing loose marijuana in middle console. When detectives located the marijuana, the defendant spontaneously stated "that's my weed, it's for personal use."

License plate reader system revealed that the defendant's vehicle entered the city prior to the robbery.

Radio Alerts

Also on July 8, around the time Hodges and Edwards were robbing the two women, Henry Rodriguez, 19, and Jose Suero, 18, both of Hialeah, allegedly committed three separate robberies between 1:20 and 2:35 a.m.

Cops say the pair rode around South Beach in a silver Nissan looking for people to rob. On three occasions in the space of little more than an hour, Suero and Rodriguez rolled up on their unsuspecting victims.

Each time, Rodriguez, carrying a Glock and his face covered by a bandanna, jumped out of the car and robbed the victims of iPhones and credit cards.

Unbeknownst to Rodriguez and Suero, all of their victims were able to contact police within minutes of being robbed and give a detailed description of the suspects' vehicle, and a few minutes later, cops broadcast a citywide alert.

Five minutes after the two robbed their final victim near Sixth Street and Jefferson Avenue, cops stopped their car at 17th Street and Alton Road. Officers found the bandanna, gun, and victims' property inside the vehicle.

McDonald's Cravings

Late last month, the Beach robbery squad arrested three other men — Rafael Monroy, Xavier Lopez, and Michael Martinez — on robbery charges.

While Martinez waited in a getaway car, police say, Lopez and Monroy confronted a Texas man and woman on the beach at Eighth Street sometime after midnight June 22, ordered them to disrobe, and then took their cell phones, $300 in cash, jewelry, and credit cards.

In addition, Monroy allegedly fondled and groped the female victim.

The three suspects were arrested six days after the crime.

The arrest reports for the trio offers some clues to how police were able to track down the men. In this case, it appears a craving for some fast food did them in: "The defendant [Martinez] then drove with both males in his vehicle to a McDonald's located at 5670 NW Seventh St. and fraudulently used the victim's credit card to purchase food at the location. Detectives used investigative means to acquire defendant's home address."

Cell-Phone Trackers

This past June 7, a family visiting Miami Beach from Chicago was robbed at gunpoint by two men on the beach at 30th Street. The crooks took cash, cell phones, and credit cards.

A little more than two weeks after the robbery — on June 23 — cops arrested 18-year-old Axel Martinez.

According to the arrest report for Martinez, after the robbery of the Chicago family, one of the victims activated the Find My iPhone app, and the phone registered a location of 1398 NW 79th St., Martinez's home address.

But that's not where cops found him. According to police, Martinez was spotted June 23 by MBPD's Ocean Drive Squad hanging out in the area of 11th Street and Ocean Drive.

The arresting officers say they had no trouble recognizing Martinez.

For weeks, cops had been circulating a flier with a picture of him sporting his unmistakable hairdo, and information linking him to the June 7 robbery.


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