Miami Beach Police Searching for Alleged Temple Vandal Who Escaped

Miami Beach Police are searching for a man who escaped from a mental health facility that they believe defaced a local temple with messages of “KKK” and swastikas earlier this month.

According to Miami Beach Police, Maximo De La Cruz escaped from Harbor House Tuesday evening. De La Cruz was in the facility in lieu of bond after he was arrested for the vandalism to the temple on September 9.

According to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, prosecutors objected to De La Cruz being placed in Harbor House because it was not a complete lock down facility and said the man posed a danger to the community, especially in light of the Jewish holidays.

The judge in the case allowed De La Cruz to go to Harbor House and declined to order a GPS monitor be put on De La Cruz.

Police said De La Cruz is homeless and was identified as the alleged vandal through fingerprints and witness identifications. The messages were found written in pen or marker on a banner outside Temple Emanu-El Synagogue at 1701 Washington Avenue.

"Last time they did capture him within 24 hours, so I'm hoping for the same result," said Barbara Breslow of Temple Emanu-el.

The escape comes as police in North Miami Beach have stepped up their presence for the High Holy Days.

Miami Beach Police have issued a BOLO alert to officers and a judge issued a warrant for De La Cruz’s arrest Wednesday. Police handed out fliers Wednesday evening alerting people at the temple of the escape.

If you see De La Cruz call Miami Beach Police at 305-673-7900 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).

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