Police department’s policy is further penalizing some crime victims

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Marcus Pina said he was in his parked car in Miami Beach when a man knocked on the driver’s side door and asked him for cash.

He said another man approached and one of them opened the door. It was at about 9 p.m. They were on Meridian Avenue near Lincoln Road.

“All of a sudden he says, ‘Get out of the car! I’m going to shoot you right here!',” Pina said.

The men carjacked him at gunpoint on Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning, Miami Beach detectives had found his car in Miami Gardens. Pina said he was grateful for the detectives' work and the police chief’s swift response. But the experience, he said, included a concern about the propriety of a department policy that is penalizing some crime victims.

On Thursday, Pina learned officers had the car towed from Miami Gardens to Miami Beach so that Crime Scene Investigation could gather evidence. Instead of allowing Pina to pick up the car at the station, Miami Beach police allowed Beach Towing, one of the area’s major towing companies, to take it to their lot.

Pina said it was there he found out that he was stuck with the $550 towing bill. He thought this was unfair since police officers were the ones who hired Beach Towing twice without his authorization. Pina contacted Chief Rick Clements.

“He just said that they’re going to work as hard as they can to help my situation,” Pina said.

Pina called Local 10 News on Thursday night. Clements kept his word. Officers said on Friday they had secured the release of Pina’s car from Beach Towing.

Pina no longer had to pay the $550, which he felt was an exorbitant fee. Officers said towing vehicles is costly and depending on the case that cost can end up being passed on to the victim.

“I really hope that there’s a better system instilled for people that go through this,” Pina said.

Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editor Emily Hales contributed to this report.

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