Thief suspected of robberies at UM dating back to April
The suspect of a string of burglaries on the UM campus between April and August of this year was arrested on Labor Day after two School of Communication professors confronted him.
The suspect, a 31-year- old male, was apprehended at Granada Boulevard and Bird Road, after a BOLO was issued.
He was charged with eight counts of burglary of an occupied structure, two counts of grand theft and one count of the possession of burglary tools.
Detective George L. Baixauli of the Criminal Investigations Division confirmed that the suspect has a record of past burglary offenses.
However, Baixauli was unable to confirm the suspect’s relation to the campus, if any, due to possible interference with the ongoing investigation.
According to the official police report, both witnesses observed the suspect inside the private offices of the fourth floor of the Wolfson Building at 1:30 p.m. on Labor Day while trying to retrieve paperwork from their offices. Witness 1 questioned the suspect’s presence, not recognizing him as student or faculty.
At that point, the suspect claimed that he was a security guard working for the dean in reference to the recent burglaries in the building.
Both witnesses then noticed that several previously locked offices had been unlocked, and their respective file cabinets and drawers had been opened. In addition, the office containing the master keys to the building had been broken into.
Before the witnesses could further question the suspect, he fled the scene.
The witnesses contacted UM police and a BOLO was immediately issued.
At 2:10 p.m., an officer stopped the suspect and asked him what he was carrying in his backpack. The suspect then answered that he was carrying a camera and a laptop. He also stated that he was coming from the UM cafeteria, where he had just ended a class.
The suspect remained under police surveillance until the witnesses positively identified him, at which point he was arrested and taken to the Coral Gables Police Dept.
According to Baixauli, the total cost of the stolen items, including audiovisual equipment such as flat screen monitors and projectors, is still being calculated.
Baixauli went on to say that the string of thefts occurred in the Wolfson, Memorial, Merrick and Law School buildings.
According to the police report, the suspect at the time of arrest had in his possession two video cameras and a laptop computer, totaling an estimated $10,000.
The Miami Hurricane was able to conduct a phone interview with Witness 2, who said that the suspect could be released if a deal is made with the prosecution, based on information learned at the District Attorney’s Office on Sept. 8.
UM Police maintain that these types of crimes can be easily avoided on campus.
“Most of these buildings [on campus]have security measures,” Baixauli said. “We just need them to engage these methods – they need to turn on alarms and lock doors.”
Baixauli also noted that on campus, in general, doors have been found unlocked, and alarms have not been activated when they should.
“Crime is based on opportunity,” Baixauli said. “The simple preventive methods that the University of Miami campus already utilizes could help reduce such crimes if used consistently.”
The anonymity of the witnesses was protected in this article to ensure their safety. Locks affected by the missing keys in the Wolfson Building have been changed.
Fizaa Dosani can be contacted at email@example.com.