FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CBS12) — Two men from South Florida were arrested in connection to a series of burglaries of Jeeps parked in South Florida airports.
On Saturday afternoon, the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) said 22-year-old Jonathan Quintero and 25-year-old Diogenes Morel Martinez were arrested for the theft of Jeep parts at Fort Lauderdale's airport, and investigators suspect they're behind similar thefts at Palm Beach International and Miami International airports in recent weeks.
Detectives say they witnessed the duo steal headlights and grills from two Jeep Wranglers parked in a long-term parking lot at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Detectives kept a close eye on the two as they left the airport. A short time later, they tried to commit a similar crime at Sawgrass Mills Mall.
By that point, detectives said they took the men into custody on charges including armed burglary, grand theft and possession of burglary tools. Detectives say both Quintero and Morel confessed to the crimes, and they were transported to the Broward Main Jail.
These type of thefts are becoming exceedingly common in South Florida airports. BSO said the duo appeared to have stolen headlights and grills from dozens of Jeeps parked at FLL, Miami International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) over the past few months. Investigators have received reports of 28 burglarized Jeeps at FLL, 14 at MIA, and 18 at PBI.
On September 11, the CBS12 New I-Team conducted its own investigation looking into the thefts at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI). Following the investigation, it was learned that the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (PBSO) received 10 calls for "theft of auto parts" at the PBI parking garage in just four days in late August.
One of the victims told I-Team the theft made him feel "violated".
"It just feels ugly. It feels like we've been violated," said Ed Cooper, one of the Jeep owners at PBI airport.
The theft raised questions about the lack of security cameras at the airport parking garages.
"That's the first thing we said — surely there must be a camera to show what happened," Cooper said. "The officers were quick to say they've been asking for years for cameras, but there's no cameras up there. I was surprised. My biggest concern is safety."
Detectives in Broward County used security camera footage from FLL's parking garage to build their case against Martinez and Quintero. According to the arrest report, video surveillance helped BSO get a suspect description and understand how they were carrying out the crimes.
Detectives with the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) continue to investigate the incidents in their jurisdictions.