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    Deputies: Dogs rout burglar

    The Sheriff's Office charges a man with thefts from dozens of vehicles at health clubs.

    By Times staff writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published June 2, 2002

    ST. PETERSBURG -- A man suspected in as many as 60 car burglaries was arrested Friday night after a short chase that involved a Sheriff's Office helicopter and canine units.

    Carlos Abrams, 25, of 2614 Fifth St. S in St. Petersburg, is accused of breaking into dozens of cars.

    Abrams seems to have targeted health clubs in Largo and surrounding areas, said Sgt. Greg Tita, a spokesman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. After a car burglary Friday night at the Bally Total Fitness at 13455 U.S. 19 N, detectives thought the burglar might head to another Bally's location. They went to the Bally's at 28272 U.S. 19 N and found Abrams in the parking lot.

    Abrams ran, and "there was a vehicle pursuit that didn't last long because the helicopter was up," Tita said.

    At Ninth Avenue S and 10th Street in St. Petersburg, Abrams jumped out of his car and ran, but the helicopter, with the help of dogs, was able to keep up with him.

    Abrams is being held at the Pinellas County Jail on $284,026 bail.

    Tita said detectives think Abrams is the smash-and-grab thief they have been looking for. Abrams is suspected in burglaries at not only Pinellas health clubs, but also Countryside High School, St. Petersburg College's Clearwater campus and a Sam's Club at 2575 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd.

    The burglar used screwdrivers or pry bars to break windows on cars, then stole purses, wallets or laptop computers, among other items. Tita said detectives think Abrams is using the money he obtains to buy crack cocaine.

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