A group of thieves was caught attempting to steal air conditioning units from Nova Southeastern University's North Miami Beach Campus overnight, police said.
William Villalobos said his backyard became an escape route for the metal thieves, who broke his fence trying to run away from police.
“I've been here, living here for 10 years, and nothing like that happened. And actually last night we heard the dogs, they were barking,” he said Thursday.
Police said they responded to the campus at NE 170th Street and 18th Avenue after reports of a robbery and caught the theft in progress. One suspect was actually bitten by a police dog as he tried to escape and had to be taken to the hospital, police said.
“A perimeter was set up in the area and four of the subjects were taken into custody along with two vehicles that we believe were used in the commission of the crime, and we've also recovered air conditioning parts, compressors, fans and a bunch of sheet metal,” said North Miami Beach Police Sgt. Richard Rand.
Those items were located inside a van and a Suburban that was towed away as evidence.
Police identified the four suspects arrested as Ashley Raquel Norris, 19, Roberson Cadet, 18, Manaelle Box, 32, and Henry Box Jr., 29, who recently got out of jail after being arrested for murder in 2002. This time, police said, Box and his associates were just trying to steal the copper coils of the AC units and other pieces of metal to sell them as scrap.
The foursome all face charges of burglary and resisting arrest without violence, according to police. It was not immediately known whether the four suspects have attorneys.
The contractor in charge of repairing the fence the thieves cut to get to the units says he has seen such crimes grow considerably in the last two years.
“I mean, they're coming in here stealing the copper, and they don't even care about the condensers, but it's the copper is (where) the most money is,” said Wayne Hanson of the Comet Fence Corp.