Inside Miami Beach's "Apple Picking" Ring: How The Smartphone Gang Operated
"Apple picking" is the newest crime du jour in South Florida, perpetrated by gangs looking to steal your smartphone. Some are even willing to kill you for it. Last July 1, two teen boys on bicycles confronted 54 year-old Jerry Wayne Sherrell near NE 2nd Ave. and 54th Street and demanded his phone. When he refused, he was shot and killed by one of the boys. Police quickly apprehended a 16 year-old boy and charged him with Sherrell's murder.
The latest rash in Miami Beach ended last weekend when police arrested 8 young men. But how did these kids rip off so many cell phones and how did their spree come to an end? A closer inspection of police reports reveals that the bad guys may have been tripped-up by sheer stupidity and the clumsiness of their crimes.
Date: Aug. 4, 2013
Time: 6:30 am
Location: Bus stop at 63rd St. and Collins Ave.
Perps: Reynaldo Valenzuela, Miguel Rijo and John Alexander Sanchez-Johnson
Maria Alvarez tells cops that while waiting for a bus she was suddenly approached and surrounded by three "dark-skinned Latin males." Alvarez says one of the men pointed a gun at her and said in Spanish, "I am going to kill you, don't move. If you move, you will die quicker."
Alvarez says one of the men patted her down, taking her cell phone, gold earrings and $800 and cash before fleeing on foot.
Date: Aug. 11, 2013
Time: 6:16 am
Location: 225 Collins Ave.
Perps: John Alexander Sanchez-Johnson, Miguel Rijo, Reynaldo Valenzuela and Richard Beato Rivas
According the police report, Nilde Rivas and Aida Fernandez, two female tourists from Venezuela, who are dressed in workout clothes and who have just parked their car, are accosted by three "black males" brandishing firearms who pin them against the entrance gate of their building. The women told police the men placed the muzzles of the guns in their backs and "demanded cell phones" while patting them down for valuables.
One of the men removes a sports belt one of the women is wearing and rummages through it while his accomplice takes an iPod tucked in her friend's sports bra.
Police learn that the crime may have been caught on the building's surveillance camera.
Total take: An iPod Nano and a sports belt with purse and water bottle holders.
The women tell cops that one of the men had "abnormally large buttocks."