Motorcycle Thieves Haul Dozens of Bikes From Poorly Guarded Downtown Garages

Categories: Crime
Thumbnail image for DucatiHypermotard.jpg
via Wikimedia Commons
One downtown resident's Ducati Hypermotard was lifted on March 31.

For months, savvy residents at downtown and Brickell high-rises have been on the lookout for the "White Van Gang." The criminals get their nickname from their favorite method: driving a white van into condo parking garages, loading up as many motorcycles as they can fit into the back, and then calmly driving off with the loot.

The thefts are on the rise as condo towers fill up -- and because many garages are guarded by little more than easily lifted mechanical arms. Some residents complain managers won't pony up for stronger gates, while police say without better safeguards, the thefts are tough to stop. At least one condo manager, though, says understaffed police are to blame for the crime wave. 

Caught in the middle are guys like Patrick Putignano, a Milanese IT technician whose Ducati Hypermotard -- a sleek speedster that can retail for up to $15,000 -- was boosted March 31 from the garage at Latitude on the River, a tower on NW Seventh Street.

"I'm pretty pissed off at our management," Putignano says. "They did a cost assessment for a real gate and decided it wasn't worth it for the dozen or so people who own motorcycles."

Latitude's manager, Lisa Doran, hotly disputes that claim. After the first theft in January, she says, the building doubled its security spending, pressured police for an extra patrol, and hired another guard to watch the garage. The building is looking at changing its gate, but structural concerns with the garage offer limited options.

"We absolutely take our security very seriously," she says.

Miami police say 35 motorcycles have been stolen in the area since the crime spree started around January. Substandard garage security is partly to blame, according to department spokesman Napier Velazquez.

"Problems we have noted at buildings like [Latitude] include the poor quality and placement of surveillance cameras, and [lax] security and valet parking procedures," he writes in an email.

Doran, though, says police are misdirecting the blame. "We've taken all possible precautions," she says. "It seems to me they're finger pointing... Downtown is disgracefully understaffed."

Putignano says he just wants to know that his bike will be safe. "Who wants to live in a building where you know thieves can march into the garage and take your motorcycle?"

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17 comments
franco VALDES
franco VALDES

let me contribute to this...

I live at Nordica Condominiums (  2525 SW 3 ave miami FL 33129 ) and there have been countless break-ins, vandalism, burglaries and other incidents  in the last year or so.  Just  in the last week there were 4 burglaries in the garage. One was mine, they stole the wheels off my Maserati ( $7000 worth ). Here is a picture: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/...

Management won't cover my loss and they refuse to do anything about it.

Alicia Mariah Elfving
Alicia Mariah Elfving

This is a problem in a lot of condos, apartments, etc. Try a motorcycle disc lock:http://motocorsa.com/post/bike...

...or pony up the dough for a loJack. They're awesome- you get a phone call, email, and text when someone moves your motorcycle. At all. 

Guest
Guest

i have lived in condos my whole life, and seen things like this once in a while. Its easy for ignorant people like this guy whose bike was stolen to point the finger at a buildings management instead of accepting that crime happens in major citys. This guy is probably just an entitled ***hole that needed to cry to momma. boo who... they stole my ducatti.

guest
guest

Great article!  It's about time a Property Manager says the truth!  Management can only do so much to prevent crime.

Hayabusa
Hayabusa

These guys almost got a Hayabusa that I still own when I lived at the Flamingo on South Beach. They were ready to load it into the van when someone drove by and spooked them. All of this was caught on very, very grainy video. It's ridiculous to say you have video surveilance when you can't see anything clearly in the videos. If the videos had been clear we could have seen their license plate: it was no more than 30' from the camera in a well lit spot. They also had "security" there but when the guard just waves everyone through what good is it? NONE! One more reason I no longer live there.

Chris
Chris

These MF have been stealing bikes for almost 15 years using a white van. They got my 1998 Ducati Biposto from Brickell Key II back in 1998 with only 50 miles on before christmas.

Guest
Guest

This isn't new. i've heard about this motorcycles thefts since the last building boom back in 2005 and nobody has done anything about it.

Anthonyvop
Anthonyvop

Love the attitude.  It is the fault of poor security or lack of police not the criminals.

Jim Camp
Jim Camp

From the volume of thefts and ineffectiveness of the increased security, one might be inclined to think that this goes deeper than just the "white van gang" showing up to steal motorcycles ?

Guest
Guest

Those things are motorcycles, not bikes.

Guest
Guest

You named me ignorant, ***hole and that i needed to cry momma etc etc.... are you a little angry about your life and condition ? I am fully insured, I will get back a new Ducati and I am going to leave soon this building and downtown Miami and go to live where crime like this is not present... you can continue to live in the condos afflicted by crime and thieves which is the place where you belong...

TooMuchCrimeInthe305
TooMuchCrimeInthe305

 they got my Gixxer back in January, I have security feed video showing valet indicating to them that something was upstairs, then valet letting them tailgate them to get through the gate, then they push the security camera covering my bike up toward the ceiling . . . all while the front desk security monitoring the cameras 24-7 "never saw anything."  Were you able to do anything about yours?  I need to find a lawyer that cares enough to actually follow through on this.  Got any advice?

Drake Mallard
Drake Mallard

inside job?

Well, maybe it boils down to this, smart guy: Computers are for losers.

JRs
JRs

Bike is abbrv for both motorcycle and bicycle. Now, "boosted May 31" ??? U mean March 31??

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