Foreclosed Homes Are a Burglar's Best Friend
Miami Beach cops got the call just after lunchtime this past January 26. A woman reported the following: Two thin, unfamiliar men were lurking in her neighborhood between a yellow $1.1 million waterfront house and an abandoned tan bungalow. They were carrying furniture from the houses to their pickup truck. "The home is vacant," she told cops. "And no one should be [inside.]"
When officers arrived, they spotted Amaury and Antonio Hernandez - both Cuban-born thirty-somethings -- lifting an expensive fish tank onto the bed of a maroon Ford F-150. One of the men "stated spontaneously he was from a moving company," according to the police report. Cops then called the owner of the yellow house - Gregory Collins, who was in California at the time -- and discovered they were lying. Both were charged with burglary.
Collins soon arrived at his Spanish-style pad and found himself short of breath. His house had been hollowed out like a Jack-o-lantern. Nearly everything was gone: A 300-hundred gallon aquarium tank, a wave runner, and a blue, 40y-foot $280,000 mini-yacht. Missing.
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Only a few notable things were left: gardening equipment, a disconcerting pair of stranger's shoes, and a trail of blood leading from the southernmost bathroom. An intruder had smashed the window and apparently sliced himself in the process. "These guys cleaned me out," says Collins, a 39 year-old marketing whiz, with a defeated sigh. "It was so weird. One of them even took my sandals and left behind his shoes."
After a word with neighbors, Collins uncovered what he believes to be the makings for a balsy recession-era con. "[The thieves] were living in the foreclosed home next door, storing my stuff," he explains. "They're obviously big crime guys."
After a word with neighbors, Collins uncovered what he believes to be the makings for a ballsy recession-era con. "[The thieves] were living in the foreclosed home next door, storing my stuff," he explains. "They're obviously big crime guys."
Claudia Jimenez, brand-new renter of the once-abandoned tan bungalow -- which was on its way to foreclosure -- is convinced the thieves used the place for the scheme before she moved in. "They stayed here," the young mother says, wide-eyed on her front steps. "I found six mattresses on the floor, cigarette butts and some weed."
Though it's not noted in police reports, Collins says investigators later found his photos, furniture, and clothes at a residence in Homestead. He has since gotten the boat back.
Adds Jimenez: "It's crazy. I can't believe they had the guts."
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