NORTH BAY VILLAGE, Fla. – A witness’s report of suspicious activity in North Bay Village led police to bust three men in a multi-county catalytic converter theft ring, officials said Wednesday, but not before they made a dramatic escape from cops.
Julie Leonardi, a North Bay Village police spokesperson, said Tuesday morning’s report in the 7500 block of East Treasure Drive triggered police to investigate, leading them to observe three men getting into a red BMW.
Police tried to stop the car, but the men sped away, driving recklessly onto the 79th Street Causeway. Officers didn’t pursue owing to “public safety” considerations, she said.
But, according to authorities, they quickly ran into a problem: the bridge was up.
Officers caught up to the BMW, but the men managed to get away again, police said.
The men “maneuvered the vehicle in the cramped, traffic-riddled space, struck the crossing barrier and drove back eastbound in the westbound lanes of the Causeway, also using the sidewalk,” Leonardi said.
Video shows the BMW going the wrong way, driving on the sidewalk and then evading North Bay Village police.
Leonardi said Miami Beach police eventually located the car in the 1900 block of Bay Drive.
Witnesses told officers that the three men had been seen running towards the bridge at the west end of Normandy Drive.
As police searched, another witness reported seeing a man hiding inside a dumpster storage room at a nearby apartment building, Leonardi said. Officers went to the building and arrested the three men.
Officials identified them as Demetrius Sanders, 24, Kerven Rodriguez, 21, and Carlos Segarra, 19.
Investigators recovered more than 30 stolen catalytic converters and two guns, one of which was stolen, Leonardi said.
Police said the men are also connected to a series of car burglaries and catalytic converter thefts in Palm Beach and Lee counties.
The men face a host of charges, including grand theft, vehicle burglary and fleeing and eluding.