Melissa Rodriguez was collecting seashells on Hollywood Beach hours after the last fireworks had dimmed on the Fourth of
Rodriguez had become a victim of what appeared to be a string of Independence Day petty thefts on Hollywood Beach.
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Soon after, Hollywood police got a call from the Desoto Inn, four blocks up Ocean Drive from where Rodriguez was robbed. Josias Valero, a resident, told them he had been woken up by his barking dog and found a man on his balcony trying to break in through his sliding glass door.
According to the police report, when Valero confronted the man, “the suspect asked him if he could take a hat he had on the balcony.” Valero called the cops and the man fled on a bicycle.
At about 2 a.m. on July 5, Hollywood police arrested 24-year-old Miramar resident Darwin Castillo as he was biking down Ocean Drive. His arrest report said he was carrying several pairs of shirts and pants, including some with the Desoto Inn logo on them, a purse, two sets of binoculars, several battery chargers, and “a cooler with two sunglasses and a six pack of cold lite beer.”
Rodriguez and Valero both identified Castillo as the man who had robbed them. According to the police report, Rodriguez “also identified the black jeans he was wearing as the ones that he took from her.”