HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - Homeowners in Hollywood and Northwest Miami-Dade said they were targeted by a man and a woman who stole valuables from their homes, and police believe the same duo is responsible for a string of burglaries across the state.
The sign outside John Lipka’s house along Wiley Street in Hollywood reads, “Smile! You’re being videotaped,” with a yellow smiley face above, but the victim said the warning was not enough to deter the burglar or his accomplice on Wednesday.
The idea that the thieves might be captured on several of his 22 surveillance cameras, Lipka said, “doesn’t bother them in the least.”
The security footage showed the woman, wearing a light colored T-shirt, dark shorts and slides, as she used her smartphone.
“She’s saying, ‘No one’s answering the front door. The coast is clear up front,'” said Lipka.
Lipka said the woman rang his doorbell to make sure no one was home.
The victim said the man then hopped the fence.
Another camera captured the perpetrator, wearing a gray hoodie with the word “Alaska” printed in large yellow letters, as he walked around the property.
“He actually walks around like he owns the place,” said Lipka.
The homeowner said the crook felt so at ease that he pet the family cat shortly after breaking in.
“He doesn’t care about people or their belongings but likes animals,” said Lipka.
Another camera showed the man as he continued to scope out the property.
“On the phone constantly, I’m assuming, with the female outside,” said Lipka.
The footage then showed the man smashing the bathroom window to gain entry into the house.
“Total disregard for someone else’s personal property,” said Lipka.
Interior surveillance cameras showed the man opening and rifling through drawers in one of the bedrooms.
“Violating, disgusting,” said Lipka.
Shortly after, the thief is seen finding a safe. However, the homeowner said, he did not find anything inside.
“[He probably thought], ‘Wow, I hit payday,’ and it’s empty,” said Lipka.
The victim said the crook took about $28 in loose change, but in so doing, he triggered the alarm.
In total, Lipka said, the burglar spent just under two minutes inside the house before he bolted out the front door.
The Northeast Miami-Dade homeowner, who did not want to be identified, said he was targeted by a man wearing the same hoodie on the same day.
That homeowner said he was returning home from dinner when he caught the burglar leaving his property along Northeast 114th Street, at around 7:30 p.m.
The crook could first be seen in the surveillance video putting on a glove to open a gate to the home’s backyard.
“He’s invading the property,” said the victim. “This is not his property and putting a glove on one of this hands.”
As in the Hollywood break-in, he could then be seen in the video walking around the home’s pool area. Shortly after, he is seen tilting the surveillance camera upward.
“He turns around, and he comes to the pool area, and he starts looking in the house to see if there’s anybody,” said the victim.
The homeowner said the man ended up smashing a sliding glass door to gain entrance into his home.
The victim said he tried to chase after the thief, who fled the scene in a dark gray BMW driven by an unknown woman.
The victim said they got away with sunglasses and coins.
Police believe the same duo was responsible for burglaries along Florida’s Treasure Coast.
On April 12, Port St. Lucie Police put out a flier with surveillance stills of a man wearing what looks like the same Alaska sweatshirt, light jeans and shoes worn by the crook in Northeast Miami-Dade.
The flier said the man was behind a series of eight burglaries and also mentioned a gray or silver BMW as the getaway vehicle used by the man and an unidentified woman.
A similar burglary also took place in Palm City on April 12.
While Port St. Lucie Police have acknowledged the similarities, they also said they could not confirm with certainty that the burglar in both cases is the same man.
The Port St. Lucie Police Department is now working with other involved agencies to determine the subject’s identity.
Meanwhile, the victim in Northeast Miami-Dade said he learned about the other burglaries through social media.
Both victims said they hope this potentially multi-county crook will soon be caught.
“It is really scary. It makes you feel really vulnerable, not only for you but for your whole family,” said the Northeast Miami-Dade homeowner.
“This is your home, the house your kids grew up in,” said Lipka, “and somebody hops over the fence and violates you.”
If you have any information on any of these burglaries, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS or Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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