Sus­pect’s van de­signed to keep peo­ple away

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Palm Beach (Sunday) - - News - By Anne Geg­gis South Florida Sun Sen­tinel

In­side the van of sus­pected mail bomber Ce­sar Altieri Sayoc Jr. sat de­vices of the un­ex­pected kind: Two dome - shaped gad­gets perched on the dash­board that flash red when­ever some­one walks by.

They’re de­vices that were ei­ther mo­tion-ac­ti­vated cam­eras — or more likely, fake ones de­signed to look like them. The hoax ones sell for as lit­tle as $8 on­line, meant to scare po­ten­tial in­trud­ers away.

An up-close look at the domed de­vices is seen on cell­phone footage shot by a Plan­ta­tion man who walked around Sayoc’s van in July to film ev­ery­thing. Michael He­bert, a 37-year-old Air Force vet­eran, recorded the van’s ex­te­rior while it was parked at an LA Fit­ness gym in Oak­land Park.

Walk­ing by the white van’s dash­board, He­bert no­ticed the domed de­vices’ red lights ac­ti­vate. “I’m film­ing. His cam­eras film me, we’re film­ing each other,” He­bert nar­rated for his cell­phone video. “I see you.”

He­bert started see­ing Sayoc at his gym in the evening hours, be­gin­ning in June. Some­times he saw Sayoc work­ing out, other times it seemed like he was just hang­ing out.

The sheer vol­ume of stick­ers that seemed to be cov­er­ing up the van seemed cu­ri­ous enough that it spurred He­bert to press record. He­bert said through the mil­i­tary, he had worked on se­cu­rity de­tails for U.S. no­ta­bles, such as Hil­lary Clin­ton while over­seas, and was trained to rec­og­nize any­thing out of the or­di­nary.

The dash­board “cam­eras” struck He­bert as fakes. In a sepa- rate cell­phone record­ing of the van, He­bert men­tioned how they likely were fakes.

“In my ex­pe­ri­ence, I would say those were generic/fake to keep peo­ple from tam­per­ing with his ve­hi­cle,” said He­bert, who now works in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Sayoc’s van has been bur­glar­ized nu­mer­ous times, Broward County law en­force­ment records show.

At that same LA Fit­ness where He­bert filmed Sayoc’s van, Sayoc re­ported to po­lice in May 2015 that nearly $45,000 worth of his prop­erty was stolen from the van. It was one of at least five bur­glar­ies to his van that he re­ported be­tween 2015 and 2017.

Among the items he said were miss­ing: com­puter equip­ment, kitchen ap­pli­ance, dresses and cos­tumes he used for his busi­ness and a “Don­ald Trump fur.”

He re­ported an­other bur­glary from his ve­hi­cle less than two weeks later on Mayo Street in Hol­ly­wood. That time, his car tag had been taken.

ageg­gis@sun­sen­, 561-243-6624, or @An­neBoca.


A passerby grabbed a shot of the van al­legedly ownded by Ce­sar Sayoc on Oct. 18, out­side Whole Foods on Univer­sity Drive in Davie.

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