Miami Palmetto's Custodian and Security Guard Arrested for Stealing $6,127 of School Property

Smell those flowers? Spring is in the air in Miami. So, too, is spring cleaning. But some people seem to have a hard time distinguishing the seasonal pick-up from the year-round five finger discount.

Two employees at Miami Palmetto Senior High School have been arrested and charged with grand theft after loading school furniture onto trucks and selling it to a local scrap yard. According to a police report, they admitted to taking the items but claimed they thought they were trash.

The two Miami Palmetto employees, a security guard named Donovan Martin and a custodian named Kirk Smith, have pleaded not guilty. Smith does not have a criminal record in Miami-Dade County. Martin, meanwhile, was charged with grand theft auto in 1989 but the case was dropped.

According to the police report (attached below), Miami Palmetto principal Allison Harley called the cops on Friday, April 13 after learning of the missing furniture. She showed police video footage of Martin, Smith, and several other school employees loading dozens of desks, chairs, cabinets, garbage cans, and exercise bikes into the backs of their trucks and driving off earlier that week.

The same thing had happened twice the previous week. All together, a total of $6,127 in school property went missing.

Cops questioned Martin, Smith, and two other custodians. Martin and Smith both said they thought the furniture was just trash and admitted to selling it to a scrap yard on SW 72nd Street.

But both also admitted to never asking the school for permission. Martin told cops that "looking at the incident (he) now understands he made a mistake," according to the police report.

The two other custodians told cops that they thought they were following school orders by helping to put the equipment onto the trucks. They were not arrested.

Martin and Smith immediately resigned from Miami Palmetto, according to the report.

Principal Harley declined to comment to Riptide, but she told cops that she would have "a discussion with her staff as to the rules of removing any property from the school."

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.