By Rich Pollack
Highland Beach is a neighborly town — so neighborly in fact, that sometimes the welcome is even extended to people being chased by police.
When two of 11 suspected illegal immigrants tried to escape after bailing out of a van on A1A in Highland Beach on Feb. 21, they received a warm welcome from an unsuspecting resident of the Trafalgar Condominium. The resident invited them in for a glass of water and a few minutes of friendly conversation.
The brief impromptu visit ended when a police officer knocked on the door of the upstairs apartment — during a floor-by-floor search — and took the elusive couple into custody.
The resident, whom police aren’t identifying, was unharmed. In fact, his interaction with the man and woman who apparently arrived by boat through the Boca Raton Inlet was anything but hostile.
“The resident complimented them on how nice they were,” said Highland Beach Police Detective Dwayne Fernandes.
Fernandes said the couple, after jumping into a waiting van near the inlet, ran a few buildings south of the Trafalgar while police were in pursuit. A half a dozen or so others in the van were apprehended quickly, but the couple managed to get away and break into an unoccupied apartment at the Trafalgar.
From there, they made it to the lobby of the building and to an elevator where they found their eventual host, who invited the parched pair into his home for a cool drink.
“He’s a very nice man,” Fernandes said of the resident.
The man and woman were turned over to immigration authorities. The man is also facing burglary charges related to the break-in at the Trafalgar.