People living in the Hammocks are once again on guard. They're on the lookout for a couple of crooks -- possibly a group of men -- who have been busting into homes, stealing not only their belongings, but their sense of security.
The latest burglars struck in the dead of the night, wearing no disguise. They cased the neighborhood in two vehicles, found homes where no one appears to be inside, then, after covering their faces with nothing but t-shirts, go door-to-door and window-to-window until they find one open or they can pry it open.
"They attempt to conceal their identity by the clothing they wear," said Miami-Dade Det. Olenka Ryan. "They are quick. They don't remain in the house for a very long time."
And they rarely leave empty-handed.
Most recently, they hit a home during Labor Day weekend, while the family was away. Not once – but twice. The bandits broke in Friday night – then again, Sunday evening. The family returned home Monday morning to find the house in shambles and tens of thousands of dollars in valuables gone.
"It wasn't really what they took,” said Kevin, the homeowner, who asked we not reveal his last name. “Just knowing strangers were inside my house for this long, for three days, I don't care about the stuff they stole. They came into our house. This was our home. I feel very violated."
Kevin has several surveillance cameras around the perimeter of his home. They were all rolling. He showed the video to Local 10 Crime Specialist John Turchin. It shows the men cruising the area, then, getting out of their car, sneaking along the a wall along the property line, before running across the driveway to the front door.
"With all their power they pulled, and yanked on the door. They couldn't do it. They couldn’t open it. They backed off. I thought they were gone but when I saw the video camera again I see them now in the backyard," he said.
They tried several more doors and windows. The windows were impossible to break. They are hurricane resistant. Eventually, they made their way in through a side window, prying it open with a crow bar along the edge of the frame.
Once inside, they went for the good stuff, bagging quite a bungle -- a women's stainless steel Rolex watch with a diamond bezel, an expensive Phillipe Charriol necklace and pendant, a couple of men's rings, Kevin’s 1990 class ring from Southwest High School with a baseball engraving on the side, and much more.
But they weren't done. They came back two nights later and cleaned house again. This time, they pocketed more jewelry. They snatched two, big screen television sets – a 55-inch LG flat screen and a 65-inch Samsung LED.
On the surveillance video, you can actually see one of the men carrying one of the TVs out the front door.
"Since this happened, my son, he's 5 years old, he's been terrified,’ said Kevin. “He's so scared that he's sleeping here with us. I had to bring his mattress next to us in the master bedroom."
Detectives believe the suspects are both either white or Latino men. They used two vehicles during their Labor Day weekend spree, a late-model light-colored Jeep Cherokee and a dark BMW 300 series.
In the past few months, homes in the Hammocks have been targeted by burglars at least a half dozen times. Investigators aren’t sure if they are all connected, but are looking into that now.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Miami-Dade Police Department's Hammocks District General Investigations Unit at (305) 383-6896.