Crime does not have to be awful. It can be a delightful diversion that is, if you're not the victim.
And in Miami there's plenty. Police document it every day in methodical yet desultory snippets of doggerel that can make the timid blanch and the jaded rage.
Though murders get the most play, robbery and burglary are popular. Just in the city of Miami, officers file nearly 10,000 of these reports per year, and many are sent to the media. They're rarely seen, usually branded irrelevant to the big news. But they are public record.
During the past three years, while studying these documents for the Biscayne Boulevard Times, I have developed a symbiotic relationship with victims, criminals, and the police who file these sometimes grammatically challenged reports. They suffer, break the law, and make the busts. I poke fun at all of them.
The criminals in the reports boast nicknames like Bow or Pelé. Over the years, police have detailed stolen "fag pouches" and included comments such as "Defendant was drunk as fuck." Prostitutes have reacted with indignation to veiled accusations by saying, "I'm not a whore, I'm a hair dresser." Then there was the man named "Monique" who robbed and attempted to shoot up a Biscayne Boulevard motel, declaring, "I'm going to smoke you bitches."
The following items are some of the best of 2006.
Raw Meat Between Woman's Legs Raises Concern
1150 NW 55th St.
Defendant removed two packages of chopped meat from the frozen food section at a Winn-Dixie supermarket and strategically placed them between her legs. She then began to walk past the cash register, but the astute cashier noticed a curiously large "bulge" and that she was wincing, likely as a result of the cold carne. Suspect ignored the cashier's warnings and waddled out the front door. She was apprehended by another employee, who removed the stolen grub. It is unknown if the meat was returned to the freezer for resale or held as evidence.
Missing Beer Sparks Police Inquiry
2600 block of Biscayne Boulevard
Harried police, investigating a possible break-in and robbery at a place of business, found a dejected man named "Mr. Caceres," who seemed extremely depressed. He reported that he was the business owner and that he had discovered a beer missing from his refrigerator. He inexplicably called police and, unbelievably, they responded. The tipsy victim said he had closed-circuit TV and offered to give police the video "in a couple of days." Later he admitted there was no video. The case was closed, and the missing beer remains a soggy mystery. In fairness to Mr. Caceres, the lost bottle wasn't a cheapie; it was imported.
Topless Woman's Vodou Enrages Neighbor
NE 77th Street and Fifth Avenue
A man named Curtis Walton allegedly barged into his downstairs neighbor's apartment and began choking a woman. Apparently she had created a vodou doll in the man's image. As he choked her, the defendant screamed, "Why is my girl doing vodou to me? I know what you are doing, and you better stop!" She struggled to speak, and warned him that she was going to call the police. This scared off Walton. The victim later accompanied officers to his home and made a positive ID when he opened the door. Defendant was arrested. On a side note, the police report states the victim was topless the whole time, wearing only bottoms: hospital scrubs.
Pervert's Masturbating Spooks Homeowner
1700 block of SW Fourth Street
Victim arrived home at the end of the workday and noticed something was amiss. He had closed the shades that morning, but they were now open. He looked through his front window and was stunned to see a stranger inside his living room ... sexually pleasing himself. Rather than interrupt, the homeowner called police. But the perpetrator, having seen the victim, ceased his activity and vacated the home. Sexual Battery Unit was notified and set up a perimeter around the area. A Mr. Sepero was later arrested. Because the suspect had left the scene prematurely, police were unable to collect DNA evidence.
Pathetic Excuse for a Getaway Car
225 NE 34th St.
A suspicious woman tried to pry open the door to an office suite. Security guards watched on videotape and hurried to the scene. The woman dropped her screwdriver and ran to the main lobby, exiting through the front doors. By chance, a Miami-Dade Metrobus had stopped nearby, so the panicked defendant jumped in and rode north on Biscayne Boulevard. The building manager chased the errant bus and called police on his cell phone. Officers were able to stop the vehicle on NE 54th Street. Thankfully Miami's capricious construction gave the lawmen time to nab the prowler.
A female victim was awakened by a sound in the middle of night and was horrified to see a twentysomething male stranger standing at the foot of her bed. She screamed, and the intruder covered her mouth, threatening to kill her if she persisted. Victim did not see a weapon, but the man's pants were down and he was clearly enthusiastic. Within seconds, he finished his nasty deed on the victim's pelvis. He told her to count to ten as he fled the scene. To add insult to violation, he took several tchotchkes on his way out. Sexual Battery Unit was notified, and a bulletin was sent out, but there were no arrests. Unfortunately the tchotchkes remain at large.
A Plaintive Call for a Small Measure of Intelligence
3601 Biscayne Blvd.
In a fast-growing Miami trend, purse snatchers prey on hapless victims. This past spring, a woman left her purse on the passenger seat of her SUV while she pumped gas. Her doors were unlocked. She couldn't see the thief because of the vehicle's size and tinted windows. The windows block out ultraviolet light and, apparently, common sense.
Appeal for Mercy Falls on Deaf Ears
3501 Biscayne Blvd.
The owner of a McDonald's called police when he observed a man inside his closed restaurant. Police apprehended the fellow, who was carrying a white garbage bag containing various food items. Caught in the act, he admitted he was not an employee and he knew it was wrong to steal. He said he was hungry and only wanted some food. The famished gent was clearly hoping for some compassion. He was promptly arrested.
No Crime Committed When Stupidity Is the Culprit
NE 72nd Street and Biscayne Boulevard
Mr. Rodriguez was strolling down Biscayne Boulevard when he was stopped by an enterprising salesman wearing tattered clothing and carrying a small cardboard box containing a digital video camera. The disheveled salesman claimed the retail value of the camera was $1000, but he was willing to sell it for $400. In an amazing act of bad judgment (utter stupidity), the so-called victim sauntered over to a nearby ATM machine and then gave the man the loot. Upon later inspection, the video camera was found to be nonoperational and not digital. Mr. Rodriguez called police, who determined no crime had been committed because the victim purchased the item on the street.
Suspicious and Unwelcome Advance Later Leads to Burglary
500 block of NE 66th Street
Mr. McHugh arrived home and was greeted by a man sporting a gold grill in his mouth. The grilled man lustily grabbed his crotch and said, "I don't mean no disrespect, but you make my dick hard." The tenant responded simply, "No thank you," and walked away. One day later, the same gent was seen with a similarly grilled female. It was eventually discovered that the fellow had broken into Mr. McHugh's apartment via the front window and had stolen items worth an estimated $30,000. No more grilling is allowed.
8115 Biscayne Blvd.
Suspect placed an order at McDonald's. After receiving his food, he politely asked for a large paper bag. The helpful cashier gave him the biggest bag available. Just as she turned her back, she glimpsed the man placing the Ronald McDonald House Charities jug inside the bag. When he was approached by the restaurant manager, the suspect dropped the bag onto the floor. He fled before police arrived. Thankfully the jug remained intact.
Colder Weather Inspires the Imperfect Crime
100 block of NE 77th Street
A landlord evicted a tenant for nonpayment of rent. A week later, another tenant called to complain about water coming from the departed fellow's apartment. The landlord immediately responded and found the front door unlocked. When she entered, a tidal wave of water engulfed her. The prior tenant, the main suspect in the case, had stolen the apartment's water heater. The bandit did not get very far. The heavy water heater was later found on the ground floor. Home Depot would not take it in exchange for a new one.
Be Careful Who You Hug
555 NE 15th St.
A seemingly needy woman approached Mr. Melloni. The unusually friendly female hugged the victim. She asked to enter his condo, but the gent was taken aback by the stranger's unusual advances and was obviously not in the "mood." He headed home. But as he walked away, he noticed his wallet was missing. He ran back to the front of the building, and much to his chagrin, the affectionate woman was gone. Miami denizens should be forewarned of "nice people" in their immediate areas.
The Wizard of Oz (Not)
5255 Biscayne Blvd.
Defendant was observed by a motel security guard, Mr. Brady David, leaving one of the rooms of the Best Value Inn. Taking the motel name too literally, the defendant sauntered through the lobby with a fan and a TV set that were motel property. David asked the brazen thief to stop. He responded, "I'll come back for you if you call the police." Police were nevertheless called and a perimeter was set up around the area. Defendant was located and a police canine, Oz, approached him. The scofflaw hit the dog several times with a wooden chair. In return, the pugnacious pooch bit the thug in several sensitive places. The reprehensible, pusillanimous dog-hater was arrested and taken to the hospital. Justice triumphed thanks to the wonders of Oz.
Take That, You Arrogant Towing People
2418 N. Miami Ave.
Mr. Grochlowski's vehicle was towed for a meaningless parking violation and taken to Downtown Towing. He presented his driver's license to the attendant and asked if he could see his car. He hoped to grab his registration card. The attendant left the man alone with his vehicle. The vehicle was missing when Downtown Towing did inventory. Call it a courageous victory for the little guy!
Derek McCann does a police beat column for the Biscayne Boulevard Times, where some of this material originally appeared.