MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – There are allegations of serious crimes getting swept under the rug in Miami Shores.
"It's a nice neighborhood, but it's (sic) horrible things going on," one alleged victim, who did not want to be identified, told Local 10 News. "You're living in a beautiful house right next to a crime scene."
Her crime, she said, happened last April. She said a man found her in the laundry room at the Shores Motel, forced her into his room and sexually assaulted her.
"He held me down, took my clothes off, refused to let me out of the room and he raped me," she said.
She called Miami Shores police eight days later. Their report states that "she told him 'no,'" that she was screaming, and that she was forced into sexual acts a second time.
"You told the officer?" investigative reporter Ross Palombo asked.
"He raped me," she screamed.
The Miami Shores official report never called it rape though, instead describing it as an investigation. The official crime statistics from that month, and the last reporting month of July, listed zero rapes all year.
"How could that be if I report it?" the victim asked.
"It is on face value a rape and should be captured under (unified crime reports) as a rape," Chief Kevin Lystad said.
"Then why wasn't it?" Palombo asked.
"I don't have an answer for that," Lystad said.
Local 10 has also learned there was a second case days later at the same motel, but with a different victim and suspect. The police report actually uses the word rape in the description, but the same official crime statistics do not list it as a rape.
"Why wasn't it reported as a rape in your system," Local 10 News investigative reporter Ross Palombo asked.
"Uh, you know, the answer to that is probably something that you're looking for," Lystad said. "You're looking for a black or white answer that says every single case, no matter what, is going to get categorized one way or another."
"Isn't that how the crime stats work," Palombo asked.
"OK, sometimes that's not really correct," Lystad said.
Lystad said there was confusion over whether Miami-Dade police were still investigating to assist them. He added that his police department has been monitoring the cases. Both police reports, however, listed their cases statuses as inactive.
So did another unusual case from December 2013.
"(The police) said, 'Well, we were chasing a suspect and your window got shot out,'" Patrick Antonikowski told Local 10.
On that police report a witness claimed "four gunshots" flew from one car to another and that his home "had damage ... consistent to gunshot entry holes." Again, though, the official report described it as "investigation."
"I never heard anything else from them," Antonikowski said.
"That shouldn't show up in the crime statistics in any way?" Palombo asked Lystad.
"Um, you know, I see your point," Lystad said.
"The allegations coming from your own department are that these numbers are being manipulated to make Miami Shores look safer than it actually is," Palombo said.
"I categorically deny that accusation," Lystad said.
"So, you're saying the numbers are not being manipulated," Palombo asked.
"That is correct," Lystad said.
"In any way to make the city look safer," Palombo asked.
"In no way," Lystad answered.
Crime victims, however, said they still wonder.
"Do you think they're trying to sweep it under the rug?" Palombo asked the woman who said she reported being raped.
"Trying? Looks like they have," she said.
Her case is still unsolved, still invisible to the public and still behind the beautiful image of Miami Shores.
"You're living in a beautiful house right next door to a crime scene, where a 40-something-year-old women can be raped and nobody's doing anything," she said. "I live right next door to you in your nice house."
After Local 10 began its investigation, Miami Shores police released new crime statistics late Thursday. Now, one of those rapes is being counted in the official numbers.
Police said they're looking into the other cases.
Lystad now tells Palombo that he will personally read and review every report from 2014 to ensure their accuracy. He also said he is going to request the city fund a private outside audit of his records.
Follow Ross Palombo on Twitter @rosspalombo
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