Need Court Order For Surveillance Video?

(WSVN) - A crook stole her purse. Two businesses have cameras that captured the thief, but the businesses say they can’t give the victim the video without a court order. Is that true? It’s why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

There are easy hobbies like sitting on a couch watching sports, and then there are challenging hobbies like sculpting.

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso, wants surveillance video: “Hands. Human figures. Faces. Different things.”

Maria loves to work with everything from clay to big pieces of Styrofoam.

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso: “I had some very big foam, you know, Styrofoam blocks that I had them here at the back of the house, and the association was complaining.”

So Maria rented a unit at a storage facility. She liked it because it was gated, but that didn’t matter.

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso: “I never thought that in that place, that was gated, that that would happen.”

Maria was never far from her car, but a crook — who had also driven into the locked facility — stole her purse from the front seat.

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso: “I felt stupid. Like, ‘How did I leave it there kind of unattended?’ But it was in the least place that I would have thought that it could have been stolen.”

Fortunately, the storage facility had surveillance cameras that recorded the crime.

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso: “They checked the cameras, and we could see the person that stole the purse.”

Also, cameras at the gas station across the street — where the crook used Maria’s credit cards — recorded him.

Unfortunately, both businesses told Maria the same thing.

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso: “They told me that their policies that they cannot release the video unless you have a court order.”

Maria had called the police and would then learn a stolen purse is not high on their priority list.

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso: “They didn’t watch the video. They didn’t even bother to go to the gas station across the street also to request the video.”

A few days later, the case was turned over to a Miami-Dade detective.

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso: “I asked the detective if he had the video. He told me he did. I said, ‘Do you see the tag?’ He says, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Can i see the video?’ They say, ‘No.'”

That irritates and scares Maria because the crook who took her purse also has her house keys and her home address from an envelope she had in her purse.

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso: “What happens if the guy shows up here? That’s why I wanted the video.”

But since Maria can’t see the video, if the crook shows up at her house, she won’t knows it’s him.

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso: “Why are they protecting his privacy and not my right to know who’s the person that’s using my credit cards? I want to know if I have a right to have the video.”

Good question. Howard, got a legal answer?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “You do not have a legal right to the video, but you can get it. There is no law that says a business has to have a court order to give you the video. If they refuse, it’s because they do not want you to have it. As for the police, if they have the video, they do not have to show it to you, but they cannot prosecute the crook unless the victim sees the video of the crook.”

We contacted both businesses. The storage facility said it was their policy not to release video.

The gas station said they’d give it to us, but it had already been deleted.

Miami-Dade Police told us they had the video from the storage facility, and they would give it to Maria, but they have not given it to her yet.

Howard Finkelstein: “The problem for a victim in a crime like this? It’s not a high priority for the police. No one was hurt, and they focus their attention on more serious crimes.”

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso: “I don’t like how they’re handling the case.”

If Maria were molding a sculpture of her case, it would be of a frustrated victim.

Maria Ximena Basavilbaso: “You took more interest in the case than the police. You were trying to get the videos and get in contact with the police, and you actually gave me more information than the actual police.”

And the crook is still out there. A police spokesman told us the detective in Maria’s case got called off her theft to help them investigate a murder. They gotta prioritize their resources.

Storing a problem a crook created? Ready to sculpt out a solution? Contact us. We are the right mold, free and ready to make you the video star.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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