Canal Crimes: Miami Herald Photog Robbed During Canoe Project Shoot

Mar 18, 2013

Here at WRLN, one of our intrepid contributors, Terence Cantarella, has embarked on a four day long excursion in a canoe through Miami’s network of canals. His mission: to travel around the county on its forgotten waterways.

We named this journey the Canoe Project– a concerted effort to shed some light on these canals that completely surround us here in Miami.

So far, Terence’s journey has taken him through some beautiful sights and he’s met some interesting people, as he has reported to WLRN. Mostly, he’s been on his own throughout this trip, because many people in Miami don’t interact much with the city’s canals.

Yesterday, on the third day of Terence’s journey, however, he and  Miami Herald photographer/videographer Michael Alen did have a run in with some folks. Unfortunately, their interaction was a product of the sometimes murky and hidden locations of these canals.

In short, photography equipment was stolen from Michael.

Part of the mission of the Canoe Project is to provide some understanding of where these canals lead. Some areas, as Terence and Michael found, include abandoned and perhaps dangerous areas of town. Canal pirates, indeed.

Crimes near Miami’s canals are far from rare, too. A quick Internet search for crimes in South Florida canals yields stories of a man in Miami found shot to death near a canal this past January, and even a dead body found right inside a canal, hidden from the rest of the world.

Crime can sometimes be a reality of life near hidden waterways. While the crime committed yesterday was not nearly as serious, it does introduce another aspect of the nature of Miami’s canals.

Here is what Michael Alen tells us about what happened to him yesterday:

Michael says he met up with Terence yesterday afternoon near an abandoned building in Blue Lagoon, where he was going to shoot some photos and video.

“I went inside [the abandoned building] and sort of set my bag down,” he recalls, “and I started affixing a camera to his canoe.”

He says a news station was going to do a flyover shot of Terence canoeing down Blue Lagoon. So, he decided to move his equipment out of the way. After waiting a while for the station to show up, Michael decided to go back to work.

“I decided to go back to setting up the camera,” he says. “When I went back to grab my other equipment, I noticed it wasn’t there and I saw someone in the distance running off with it.”

“I sort of got the speed of a jaguar, which I didn’t know I had, and I started chasing this guy and yelling– yelling crazy stuff,” Michael says. “The guy had too big a head start on me and jumped through a hole in the fence to a waiting car and they peeled off.”

Michael says he eventually jumped in his car and tried to chase them “in the madness of it all,” but he couldn’t catch up.

Looking back, Michael says he really didn’t anticipate anything like that happening considering how desolate the area around the canal and the abandoned building was.