License Plate Cameras Will Help Stop a Tollbooth Robbery in Miami

Driver spent more than seven hours driving up and down Florida Turnpike, holding up tollbooth operators


It was highway robbery.

A brazen, gun-toting thief spent more than seven hours late Wednesday and early Thursday driving up and down Florida's Turnpike, holding up tollbooth operators.

His success was limited. Total take: $160.

No one was injured.

"This is very unusual," said Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Pat Santangelo. "We have such good surveillance equipment."

Thursday, the Turnpike Bandit and a female passenger continued to dodge police, who refused to reveal the make of the vehicle or a partial tag number gleaned from photos taken at each stop.

The spree began at 10:49 p.m. Wednesday, when the robber rolled up to a booth at the turnpike's Homestead extension demanding "dinero, dinero."

A flummoxed attendant who spoke no Spanish asked the man for his license.

"At that point the bad guy got upset and showed a firearm," said Santangelo.

The attendant handed over the $160.

Three failed attempts followed.

The first, at 1:52 a.m. Thursday, took place at a northbound tollbooth at Bird Road.

Less than 15 minutes later the suspect tried again at the Southwest 117th Avenue turnpike on-ramp.

Finally, at 6:05 a.m., he returned to the Bird Road plaza.

Santangelo said it's the first robbery attempt in four months on the stretch of turnpike between here and Orlando. The last suspect was arrested the day after the robbery.

Santangelo is confident they'll catch this one, too.

"The video is so good the camera can pick out an expired license plate," he said.