NORTHEAST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Some car owners said they may have been targeted because of their religious beliefs after they found as many as 23 vehicles vandalized near three synagogues in Northeast Miami-Dade, Saturday morning.
7News cameras captured several Miami-Dade Police officers going door-to-door, Monday afternoon, alerting neighbors about the incident. “We had a couple of break-ins over the weekend,” an officer told a resident.
Sunday afternoon, victim Jennifer Lehrfeld showed 7News the damage to her vehicle. “There’s a lot of glass inside the door,” she said as she opened the passenger side door.
Moments later, the sound of glass rang out as Lehrfeld closed the door. “That’s like impossible to get out,” she said. “Even the cost of replacing the glass is not such a big deal, but they’ve got to take the whole door apart.”
Shattered glass remained scattered near the intersection of Northeast 10th Avenue and 172nd Street, an area that borders North Miami Beach. “Late Friday night or early Saturday morning, when we came to temple in the morning, we walked, and we noticed that almost all the cars that are parked for the temples, from 171st to 176th [streets], had been smashed in,” Lehrfeld said.
Her father-in-law, the rabbi at Young Israel of Greater Miami, said the person or people responsible for the vandalism likely knew the vehicles would remain parked during the Sabbath. “I know that people park their cars for a period of over 24 hours, and that’s why they may have actually targeted our community,” said Rabbi David Lehrfeld.
The incident took place in an area where many synagogues are located. Observant Jews do not drive on the Sabbath, and the majority of the vehicles that were targeted were parked outside of synagogues.
Rabbi Lehrfeld told 7News at least 15 of the cars vandalized were parked outside of Young Israel. “They went all the way down the block,” he said.
When asked if he’d ever seen anything like this, Rabbi Lehrfeld replied, “Never before. There happens to be three synagogues in the area.”
Police said they are taking the case very seriously. “It is a big deal. It’s a crime,” said Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Samir Amado. “It’s a small crime, but no criminal started with doing an armed robbery. They started with the minor crimes first.”
People walking out of the house of worship saw car after car with at least one of their windows broken. “My rear driver window was smashed in, glass everywhere,” said Josh Fox.
“They completely trashed our cars,” said Abigail Mordechai.
Investigators said at least 17 of the vandalized vehicles were located in Northeast Miami-Dade, and at least six them were parked in North Miami Beach.
In many of the cases, however, nothing was taken, just peace of mind.
Sunday was spent reviewing the surveillance video, but it does not appear that surveillance video captured the perpetrators. Area residents are hoping that they’re caught. “They’re hoping and they’re praying that the Good Lord is watching over them,” said Rabbi Lehrfeld, “and for this to happen to them, it doesn’t shake their faith, obviously not, but it’s certainly a blow to their inward compassion.”
Miami-Dade Police and North Miami Beach Police are reviewing surveillance video from nearby properties and pursuing several leads as they continue to investigate.
Police said they hope to get the information they need to put the person or people responsible behind bars. “If you do any type of crime, there are consequences to it,” said Amado. “Eventually, it’s going to catch up to you, whether it is now or whether it is later.”
If you have any information that could help investigators, 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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