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Tampa uncuffed

Crime victim's widow given restored Olds

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 10, 2003

Arnold Klotsch, a 45-year-old carpenter, was shot to death last month as he followed two robbers running from a Town 'N Country liquor store. Klotsch was in his family's only car, a 1995 Mercury, when he was shot, and the car was damaged.

Outside the Hillsborough County courthouse Wednesday, Klotsch's widow, Denise, received the keys to a restored 1987 Oldsmobile Calais, courtesy of the Department of Juvenile Justice. She has three children and a grandchild, she says, and they desperately need the car.

The department received the Olds as a donation. Residents at the Falkenburg Academy, a center for moderate-risk juvenile offenders, fixed the car's front-end damage, replaced the brakes and gave it a paint job, tuneup and oil change.

Shiny and restored, with a bow on the hood, the Olds sat in the courthouse parking lot Wednesday, where Klotsch slipped behind the wheel.

"I'm just amazed," Klotsch said. "I'm just totally overwhelmed that people would do this for me."

The gesture was part of National Crime Victims Week.

* * *

HE'S BIG AND POLITE: Tampa police want your help in finding a robber who has hit 10 stores in 10 months.

Here's the first clue: The man is 6 feet 3 and about 300 pounds. Some of the victims say he is "obese with a potbelly."

Here's the second: The guy is really, really polite.

"He was very nice" to the victims, said Tampa police Detective Mark Dinsmore. "He's not someone you would describe as a robber."

Apparently, the man doesn't yell, scream or demand like robbers do on TV.

"He's calm and in control," Dinsmore said. "He doesn't rob the people; he robs the business."

And the robber has struck a wide array of stores, many of them upscale South Tampa locales: HoneyBaked Ham, Party City, Ruth Chris' Steak House, Norwalk Furniture and Mangrove's Bar and Restaurant, to name a few.

During each of the robberies, the man walks into the business armed with a chrome handgun and asks the victims to lie on the floor. He grabs cash from the manager's safe. In eight of the 10 robberies, he has taken car keys from the employees and fled in their vehicles. So far, all of the vehicles have been recovered.

No one has been injured by the Potbelly Robber.

Other than his physical girth, victims describe the robber as having a dark complexion.

Anyone with information should call Dinsmore at (813) 276-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 800-873-TIPS.

* * *

CLARIFICATION: Let's clarify an item that appeared in last week's column: It turns out that former Hillsborough sheriff's Maj. Rocky Rodriguez has reimbursed the agency for his cell phone use. He wrote Sheriff Cal Henderson a check for $6,007 when he retired in March.

-- Got a tip? For cops, contact Tamara Lush at 813-226-3373 or For courts, contact Christopher Goffard at 813-226-3337 or

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