NORTH MIAMI, Fla. – Police in North Miami conducted a crime sweep across the city on Tuesday, trying to get fake guns that look real out of kids' hands and targeting those involved in everything from petty crimes to repeat offenders.
During the sweep, which is conducted once a month, police focused on the city's most hard-hit areas.
"It's to keep our streets safe, and that's exactly what it is, a safe street sweep," said Officer Natalie Buissereth. "We're going through it, we're taking care of code enforcement issues. This is an abandoned building, however this is where thieves are hanging out and we need to find them and get them off the streets."
The sweep included focusing on abandoned buildings, like the one addressed by Buissereth, and handing out fliers in the area with the faces of identity thieves.
In a recent case, police said two women were caught on surveillance camera on May 5, breaking into a car parked outside the Biscayne Animal Hospital.
Just hours later, they were spotted using the credit cards at an nearby Walmart.
Police said a disturbing trend they're seeing is young people on the streets who look like they're, but are actually holding toy guns.
Police said they have found fake weapons on children as young as 12 years old, that resemble everything from pellet guns to AK-47s.
Last Thursday, police said two officers stopped a 12-year-old and 14-year-old lurking in an alley near a bank. They looked armed, but the weapons in their waist bands turned out to be fake.
While owning or carrying a pellet gun is not a crime, police said the fake guns are often used to commit real crimes.
"They feel real, they look real and some of them even have magazines like real guns," said Buissereth. "We don't want to be at the other end of the story."
Officers said they are particularly disturbed by seeing the fake guns in the hands of very young children.
Police ask parents to be aware of their children's belongings and not allow them to carry these could-be weapons in public.
One arrest was made during the morning shift of Operation Safe Streets Sweep. Evening roll call was conducted on the west side of the city.
Police said another part of the concentrated effort is to show the community that officers are watching.
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