Monday, January 9, 2012
Help Me Howard: Stolen on Camera
You live in a complex, you pay for security, then wake up to find your property stolen, all captured on videotape, and the security guard either slept through it or ignored it. So who has to pay for your stolen property? It's why one man called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- There are no mountains in South Florida, but there are plenty of challenges for mountain bikers.
Jesus Blanco, Stolen on Camera: "There is Oleta River, Malcolm Park, Amelia, there is plenty of mountain biking in Miami."
If Jesus was born a billionaire and didn't have to work, he says he would be on his mountain bike morning, noon and night.
Jesus Blanco: "It's just the ultimate sport for me."
To tackle the toughest trails, you need tough equipment. Translation: top-of-the-line, expensive equipment.
Jesus Blanco: "I did. I bought a bike, Jamis XCR race, and the bike was approximately $3,700, and that's not including the upgrades I had, and I loved the bike."
By the time Jesus was through, he had a $4,500 bike in his hands. Had a $4,500 bike.
Jesus Blanco: "Because I don't have a bike anymore. They stole it from me."
Jesus Blanco: "He's kind of looking around, walking aimlessly, I guess looking for something to steal."
Jesus' bike was attached to his car when it was stolen at 3 o'clock in the morning.
But the good news: The crook was caught on the condo's surveillance cameras.
Jesus Blanco: "I saw a person wondering around the garage at 2:40 a.m., just wandering around, and it looks like he sees my bike, and you see him leave with my bike approximately three minutes later from the first time that you see him."
The condo's surveillance cameras are monitored by a security guard. In fact, there is a camera pointed at the security guard to make sure he monitors. As you can see, he is leaning back in his chair, and leaning and leaning, for...
Jesus Blanco: "He was there, I counted 25 minutes, motionless, so he was either not watching the video or sleeping. He claims he was not sleeping. If he is not sleeping, then he's not watching the video. He's not doing his job."
If you watch the video, sure enough, you see that while the crook commits the crime, the cameras show the security guard never moves.
Jesus Blanco: "Well, I think he's incompetent and he should be fired, or the association owes me a bike."
Jesus pays the association $800 a month in maintenance, most of it to hire 24-hour security.
But when Jesus told the board his bike was stolen because of their guard, they said they weren't responsible.
Jesus Blanco: "I have him on video basically sleeping or not doing his job, so I mean, what are we paying for here?"
Well Howard, you pay association for security and instead get to watch your bike ridden off while this guy is either napping or ignoring the crime. So is the condo board responsible?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "Yes, they are. Since the association undertook to provide guards for 24-hour security, they have a duty to do so without being negligent, and sleeping or not paying attention is negligent, and the tape proves it."
When we talked to the association, they told us they don't believe their guard was sleeping. When we asked why he missed the crime, they told us they could not discuss it in case Jesus sues them.
However, they do place some of the blame on Jesus for not locking his bike to the rack on his car, and they add, they have signs up claiming they are not responsible for any theft.
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "Remember that just because you put up a sign or even put it in the condo rules, that doesn't change the law, and the law says the association has to provide security. However, they can claim Jesus didn't lock his bike, and he was partially at fault. Therefore, they may not have to pay the full amount to replace the bike."
The association told us if Jesus will admit he is partially responsible for his bike being stolen, they might pay for part of the loss.
Jesus said no. His first goal: to hope someone recognizes this crook, calls Miami-Dade Police and his bike is returned. His second step is to force his association to pay for the bike.
Jesus Blanco: "I have all options are on the table. I will definitely take them to court, no doubt about it ."
Patrick Fraser: "Not every condo or complex is required to provide security guards. However, they do have to take steps to provide adequate security. Sometimes, that's just lights. Sometimes, it's fencing. Other times, it's security guards. Depends on the likelihood of crime in that area."
Ready to videotape your problems? Focus on us. We are usually alert and will never go to sleep on you.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: email@example.com (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org