AVENTURA, Fla. – Aventura police are investigating robberies that detectives believe are tied to a group of people committing similar crimes throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Police said the robbers follow the victims into parking lots and then intentionally cause minor crashes to get the victims out of their vehicles.
The first robbery was reported Jan. 9 outside of a Publix at the Town Center Shopping Center.
According to an incident report, a woman was driving out of the shopping center slowly when a man ran up to her car, opened the driver's side door and told the victim, "Give me your jewelry or I'll kill you."
Police said the man punched the woman in the face and she have him her two rings.
The woman followed the man as he drove away in a 4-door black sedan, but she lost him after he got on the William Lehman Causeway, police said.
Another robbery was reported Monday outside a Publix at 18995 Biscayne Blvd.
The victim told detectives that she was putting groceries in her car when she noticed a black newer-model Nissan Altima pull into the parking space next to her.
The woman said she drove out of the parking lot and noticed that the Altima was following her out.
She said she thought it was strange at first, but didn't see the car again until she was rear-ended as she reached a stop sign at Mystic Point Drive.
Police said the woman got out of her vehicle and immediately realized it was the same car that she had seen outside Publix.
She said she looked at the damage, but the driver of the Nissan never came out of the car.
She said she looked at the driver and threw up her hands, and he made the same gesture back at her, but remained in his vehicle.
Police said the woman sat back in her car and the man, who was wearing a gray hoodie and white gloves, grabbed her by the neck and told her, "Give me your ring now and don't turn around or I'll shoot you."
The woman complied with the robber's orders and he took the ring and drove away.
The victim identified the robber's license plate number as GDYG60.
Police advise people in the area to park in well-lit areas and not to carry large sums of cash or expensive jewelry while shopping.
The Aventura Police Department has increased patrols and undercover units throughout the city in hopes of cracking down on the robberies.
Anyone with information about the crimes is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.