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Police have suspect in string of burglaries

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times,
published December 13, 2001

ST. PETERSBURG -- Thirty-seven times in six weeks, a burglar has used a primitive but effective technique to break into gas stations and other businesses in western and central St. Petersburg. The burglar typically throws a concrete block through a window, steals cigarette cartons and scratch-off lottery tickets, and smashes cash registers on the floor looking for money.

This has happened so many times, police put together a surveillanceteam of officers to watch the burglar's likely targets at night. Police say they caught a burglar early Wednesday who is a suspect in this string of break-ins.

Rafael Ortiz, 41, was arrested after he broke into a meat market at 2927 Central Ave., police say.

Ortiz was charged in three burglaries Wednesday, including a Nov. 25 break-in at an Exxon station at 3061 First Ave. N where he was caught on videotape, police said.

Detectives will see if Ortiz's fingerprints match prints taken from the scenes of other burglaries.

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