Police: Man robbed, exposed self to woman while posing as cop

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (WSVN) - The search is on for a man who, authorities said, robbed and exposed himself to a woman on a Coral Gables street, all while pretending to be a police officer, Sunday morning.

According to Coral Gables Police, the victim was walking along the 4000 block of Aurora Street, just off Bird Road and two blocks from the upscale Shops at Merrick Park when the subject approached just before 5:15 a.m.

Investigators said the subject proceeded to take advantage of the situation by identifying himself as a police officer. “He patted down that female, and while doing so, he exposed his genitals and deprived her of her property,” said Coral Gables Police Officer Lauren Poole.

Police said the subject, wearing mostly black and carrying a two-tone backpack, forcibly took the victim’s valuables. At first, the woman did not run because the man threatened her, warning her that he had a gun.

Moments later, the woman made the brave decision to take off running southbound on Aurora Street. The man then fled the scene on the opposite direction on a longboard skateboard.

A woman who shops in the area said she was disturbed by the robbery. “It’s very alarming and scary, because you think you’re walking in a safe space,” said Leti DeGennaro.

A woman who owns a business owner on the block where the robbery occurred said this is not the first time she’s heard about such an incident. “We’ve been here for five years, but I’ve heard some crazy stories,” said the owner, who asked not to be identified or show her face on camera.

The business owner said she always encourages her clients to always walk in pairs. “It can happen anywhere,” she said.

Ines, an area resident, said she plans to change her walking route. “Now I’m not going to walk on Salzedo [Street]. I’m going to walk straight on Ponce [De Leon Boulevard],” she said. “I will be much more vigilant.”

Police said the victim got a good look at the alleged assailant. They released a sketch from her description.

“We’re looking for a white male, 25 to 35 years old, 175 to 190 pounds, 5 foot 8 to 5 foot 10, a muscular build, with a full beard and shoulder-length brown hair,” said Poole. “We need to get this guy off the street.”

Investigators said he was last seen wearing a black baseball hat, black T-shirt, camouflage cargo shorts and black sneakers.

While there are surveillance cameras near the location where the robbery took place, it’s unclear whether they captured the subject.

Police are advising women who frequent the area to walk in pairs, carry their keys and cellphones on them and park in well-lit areas. They also reminded the public they can always ask someone who identifies themselves as a police officer for their credentials.

The investigation continues.

If you have any information on the subject’s whereabouts, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.

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