By Sean Bowes

Suspects are still on the loose for a recent rash of crimes in our area that only can be described as “smash and grab” burglaries. The break-ins left at least 12 businesses in New Tampa and the Wesley Chapel area with broken front doors and damaged interiors.

According to the Tampa Police Department (TPD), the suspect(s) first struck in the wee hours of the morning, smashing the glass front doors of businesses at 17500 Preserve Walk Ln. in Highwoods Preserve, adjacent to Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., east of I-75, on August 4. The suspects then walked into the restaurant, coffee shop or hair salon, sometimes taking the cash registers, sometimes not.

Cold Stone Creamery, Starbucks, Jimmy Johns, and Salon at the Walk were just some of the business targeted by the vandal(s) on August 4.

That same night, six businesses in the shopping plaza at 6431 County Line Rd, less than five miles north of Preserve Walk Ln., were robbed and/or vandalized. Hungry Howie’s, Grandeur Salon, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Frogury Frozen Yogurt, Cina Wok and Hudson Cleaners, were all victimized. The suspects escaped with an estimated $800 in cash total, TPD reports say.

“They broke through my front window, and stole a computer,” said Arno Schlappig, owner of Salon at the Walk. “They didn’t take any money. We don’t keep much in the cash register.”

Police are looking for a male suspect, 18-24 years old, 5-foot-8 with a medium build.

TPD detectives are working together with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) to find the perpetrators, as the New Tampa crimes are very similar to the break-ins at three businesses located near the intersection of S.R. 56 and BBD.

Anyone with information about the suspects or crimes is asked to call TPD at 931-6500 or PCSO at (727) 844-7711.


Bank Robber Strikes Two Tampa Banks In 2 Hour

After a hectic 90 minutes on August 1, Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies were, at our press time, continuing their search for a man whom, they say, robbed the Regions Bank branch in North Tampa, and then traveled to Hyde Park to rob a Bank of America branch an hour and a half later.

A man police described as a thin, black male in his mid-30s, standing 6-foot tall and wearing white Capri pants with draw strings at the bottom and a white “Gilligan” hat, handed a teller a demand note at the Regions Bank located at 11806 BBD Blvd., across the street from an entrance to the University of South Florida (USF).

The man fled on foot from both banks and escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash, said HCSO.

Anyone with any information about the suspect is asked to call Det. James Perrone at the HCSO District 2 office at 247-8555.


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