A handgun belonging to Miami Beach mayoral candidate Mike Grieco was reported stolen from a rental car in 2020, according to a police report, almost three years before Grieco left a bag containing a loaded gun unattended at a local park in an August 2023 incident that made headlines in September.
The 2020 police report, obtained Thursday by the Miami Herald, says the gun was reported missing to the rental car company, could not be found and ultimately was classified as stolen by police.
Grieco, one of four candidates to succeed term-limited Mayor Dan Gelber in a Nov. 7 election, said in a statement Friday that it was an “unfortunate matter” in which “a bag containing my unloaded, secured firearm was stolen from the trunk of my rental car.”
A state representative at the time, Grieco said he drove the rental car back to Miami Beach from Tallahassee. It wasn’t immediately clear when or how the gun may have been stolen.
Grieco returned an Audi Q7 to Enterprise Rent-A-Car on Fifth Street in South Beach around 12 p.m. on Nov. 18, 2020, according to the police report. The report says that the following day around 2 p.m., Grieco realized he had left a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun inside the car.
Grieco told the Herald the police report was inaccurate, and that he had actually reported the theft the same day he returned the car.
“Upon realizing that the bag containing the firearm was missing, I immediately contacted police and, as noted in the report, the firearm was entered into the [law enforcement database] as stolen,” Grieco said.
Grieco’s “Springfield Hellcat” firearm was “in a soft holster with an extra magazine,” the police report says.
“The 2020 police report makes clear that my firearm was stolen and, as a crime victim, I took all responsible actions and protocols were followed swiftly,” Grieco said.
The report says Grieco initially contacted the Enterprise branch, whose manager told him no gun had been recovered from the car and that the car had since been rented to someone else. Grieco then reported the incident to Miami Beach police, the report says.
Two detectives interviewed the Enterprise manager and an employee who had cleaned the car after Grieco returned it and confirmed a gun wasn’t found inside, the report says. Video surveillance did not show any items being removed from the car during the cleaning, police said.
The subsequent renter said she didn’t find anything in the car, either, according to the report. She brought the car back to the Enterprise branch, where detectives searched it and didn’t find a gun inside.
Police classified the weapon as stolen and listed Grieco as a victim of grand theft in their report. A department spokesperson did not immediately provide information about whether the incident was investigated further or if the gun was ever found.
Grieco says police being ‘weaponized’
In his statement Friday, Grieco said the Miami Beach Police Department was being “weaponized” in an attempt to derail his campaign.
“It is no coincidence that this three-year-old matter is being discussed just days before my election because the other candidates refuse to answer the tough questions,” Grieco said.
Grieco made similar statements after the incident in August, in which police said someone found a cross-body bag containing Grieco’s loaded Glock 43 handgun in an open-air dog park at South Pointe Park. Grieco said he believed his bag was stolen while he was walking his dog and acknowledged the incident “shouldn’t have happened,” saying he put the bag down and “somebody grabbed it before I realized it.”
“It is still my fault,” he said. “If I’m away from it for even a second, it was my fault.”
Grieco asked police not to investigate that alleged theft, later telling reporters he didn’t want to burden the department with additional work after the bag was found. He said some cash, but nothing else, was missing.
The incident quickly became a campaign talking point for two of Grieco’s mayoral opponents, Michael Gongora and Bill Roedy, who criticized him for not being more careful with a loaded firearm.
Grieco raised concerns in September about how his involvement in the August incident, which was first reported by the social media account “Because Miami,” had become public. He said the release of his information constituted a potential violation of state laws meant to protect crime victims and shield former law enforcement officials from the release of public records. Grieco is a former state prosecutor.
Miami Beach police have opened an internal affairs investigation into the matter.
Grieco’s name was included in a version of the 2020 police report obtained Thursday by the Herald from a source. His name was redacted when Miami Beach police provided a copy of the same report to the Herald later Thursday.
Grieco has critiqued permitless carry
Grieco has said he is a licensed gun owner. As a city commissioner, he once said he carried a gun in an ankle holster at City Hall.
During his campaign for mayor, Grieco has criticized Florida’s new permitless carry law, saying in a video that he is “gravely concerned” about public safety and “the fact there are going to be more guns on the street putting first responders and everyone else in danger.”
When the 2020 incident took place, Grieco had recently won a second term as a Democratic state representative after running unopposed for reelection.
Grieco previously served as a Miami Beach City Commissioner from 2013 to 2017. He resigned his seat during a campaign for mayor and pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of accepting an illegal contribution from a foreign donor to a secretive PAC.
Grieco was elected to the Legislature one year later and served until last year. He filed to run for mayor in February and has billed himself as the best and most experienced candidate to navigate the political landscape between Miami Beach and Tallahassee.