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Detectives see pattern after 5 armed robberies

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 6, 2003

TAMPA -- He acts like a shopper, then brandishes a gun.

Five times in the past two weeks, the same man has robbed stores in Hillsborough County, sheriff's detectives say. In each case, the man started to buy a small item, then pulled a black semiautomatic handgun on the clerk.

On Jan. 22, he started to buy red Tic Tacs at an Eckerd drugstore in Town 'N Country before robbing the clerk. Two days later, it was green Tic Tacs at a Winn-Dixie in Seffner. On Jan. 29, it was cigarettes at a Winn-Dixie in Lutz. Monday afternoon, it was Big Red gum at the same Town 'N Country Eckerd drugstore. Tuesday afternoon, it was liquid breath mints and chocolate candy at a Walgreens in Lutz.

On Wednesday, the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office released a surveillance video of the Winn-Dixie robbery in Lutz. Detectives are seeking a white or Hispanic man in his early 30s, 5-feet-10 to 6-feet, 200 pounds, clean-shaven with dark hair and eyes. In only one of the robberies was he seen leaving in a vehicle: a small, white car, possibly a Kia, in Seffner.

Anyone with information about the man should contact the Sheriff's Office at 247-8200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.

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