|Posted by Anne Siren on December 22, 2012 at 2:25 PM|
By Judy Vik
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea – A significant increase in gold chain snatchings has occurred recently in the beach areas of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach.
“We’ve had three in the last two weeks, Broward Sheriff’s Office LBTS District Chief Oscar Llerena said at a recent Town Commission meeting.
Four teens were arrested after the most recent incident, which started along the beach in LBTS and ended in the Cresthaven section of Pompano Beach.
A witness told police he saw a teen and a man fighting in the street in the 1900 block of South Ocean Boulevard [A1A] at about 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5.
The witness yelled at them to stop fighting, and they did. As the teen walked toward him, the witness told him, “It is too nice of a day to be fighting.” He thought the teen was going to shake his hand, but instead he pushed him violently and grabbed a gold chain and cross from his neck.
The witness received abrasions and scratches on his chest but declined medical treatment.
The suspect fled the area with three others in a white Infiniti, which deputies spotted near Northeast 13 Avenue and Northeast 23 Street in Pompano Beach. The teens bailed out of the car, and two ran off.
Police set up a perimeter with help from other agencies and used police dogs to track down the fleeing suspects.
All four were charged with strong-armed robbery. They are Rontavis Holton, 19; and his 17-year-old brother, both of Coral Springs; and Idris Matthews, 18, and Michael Davis, 19, both of Pompano Beach. Matthews also was charged with grand theft/auto.
“This has become common and unpredictable,” Llerena said. “This was a loosely organized group.”
Other similar incidents occurred in town late last month.
On Friday, Nov. 23, LBTS deputies responded to the area of Washingtonia Avenue and North Ocean Drive to reports of a strong-armed robbery. The victim said a suspect snatched a chain from his neck and fled.
Due to a delay in reporting the incident, deputies were unable to apprehend the suspect.
On Sunday, Nov. 25, LBTS deputies responded to reports of another strong- armed robbery in the 1900 block of North Ocean Drive. The victim said a suspect snatched a gold chain from him and fled the area.
Deputies quickly established a perimeter, and with the assistance of aviation and canine units, apprehended the suspect.
The investigation is still active, since the suspect is believed to have committed multiple similar incidents along the beach areas of Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach, in addition to LBTS.
Llerena said it’s difficult for the public to prevent such incidents. “These suspects are mobile. They come to town long enough to commit the crime and leave the area.”
Llerena noted the price of gold has “hit the roof,” and shops buying gold are proliferating in the area, though there are none in LBTS. “We’re a small cog in a big wheel,” he said.
The shops are regulated as second-hand dealers, similar to pawn shops, he said.
He said these cases are being worked at the county level with a lot of covert work being done by police. Similar crimes also are occurring in the Orlando area and in Tampa.