Florida Man News – September 16

September 16 – Florida Man Protested Against Mass Surveillance With $88K Worth of Destruction

When a Florida man is passionate about granular aspects of the United States Constitution, he will often take direct action with dramatic results. Eric Fiedler, a 35-year-old resident of Altamonte Springs in Seminole County, exercised his right to remain silent when deputies who arrested him asked why he had destroyed more than 20 automated license plate readers (ALPRs). According to a news report aired by WESH 11, the primary NBC affiliate in Orlando, Fiedler went on a rampage that lasted a few days and stopped only after deputies from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) installed special cameras to track him down.

At the arraignment hearing, Fiedler stayed silent and waived his right to make a statement as a defendant. He was charged with 22 counts of damaging a device used for law enforcement investigations. At a loss of $4,000 for each ALPR destroyed by Fiedler, his rampage added up to $88,000. The WESH report mentioned that only a few ALPRs remained in Seminole County, but Fiedler did not dismantle all of them; there seemed to be other Florida men opposed to mass surveillance taking down the readers, but SCSO deputies started with Fiedler because he was the worst offender.

While it is true that ALPRs and other road traffic monitoring devices have helped to find victims in Amber Alert situations, many Floridians are rightfully concerned about how data collection practices and how their information is being used. The ALPRs are operated by Flock Safety, a company that sells the data to SCSO and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; however, these agencies cannot stop the company from selling the information to third parties. Social media comments made by Fiedler indicate that he felt the ALPRs were an affront to the concepts of freedom as they appear in the U.S. Constitution.

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September 16 – Drunk Florida Man Stole School Bus For Joyriding Trip to Miami

In what could have been a mission from the next title in the Grand Theft Auto video game series, which will feature a fictionalized version of South Florida, a 32-year-old man from Land O’Lakes stole a yellow school bus from the Hillsborough County School District and took it on a Saturday night joyride from Tampa to Miami. In a news segment aired by WFLA-TV, the Tampa Bay NBC affiliate, troopers from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) explained that Daniel Saez admitted to having been drunk and high when he stole the bus from the parking facility of King High School in Tampa.

The fleet manager of the school district noticed the bus was missing when classes resumed on Monday morning, and he promptly reported the theft to the Tampa Police Department. Using real-time data from the GPS unit in the bus plus footage from traffic monitoring cameras, police officers located Saez driving northbound on I-75 in Sarasota County. Data from the device’s location history indicated that Saez not only drove to Miami but also paid highway tolls and even stopped at gas stations for refueling and snacks.

Saez was pulled over by FHP troopers near one of the I-75 exits leading to Downtown Sarasota. He had already driven 300 miles to Miami and back; he said that he started feeling bad about stealing the bus, so he was driving back to return it. He was only 60 miles away from King High School when he was stopped and arrested. A few days before this incident, WFLA-TV reported on another Florida man driving a bus chartered by parents of high school students on a graduation trip to Daytona Beach; he was drunk and running red lights, so he had to be overpowered and removed from the driver’s seat.