Detectives are searching for a suspect who has committed 15 burglaries in various South Tampa stores and one in Central Tampa since the end of October 2011, stealing more than $30,000 in cigarettes, according to a Tampa Police Department press release.
Each time, the suspect has broken into the convenience stores to steal large quantities of cigarette cartons before fleeing on foot, sometimes hitting the same business on different days.
Investigators said they believe the suspect is selling them on the streets.
Most of the burglaries have occurred in the early morning hours and the suspect has gained access either by prying a door open or smashing a sliding glass door.
And Tuesday, Jan. 3, the cigarette bandit struck again.
Between 5.15 a.m. and 5.45 a.m., the suspect smashed the front glass door of at 1421 S. Howard Ave., and stole about 68 cartons of cigarettes.
The suspect had hit this business twice before.
On Nov. 11, 2011, , and.
The cigarette bandit has burglarized the following other businesses:
- On Christmas morning, , 2100 W. Swann Ave. He used a prying tool to gain access through the front glass door and took 20 packs of Newport cigarettes.
- On Dec. 17, he stole six cartons of cigarettes after gaining access to BP convenience store at 301 N Dale Mabry Hwy.
- On Dec. 12, the suspect broke into Walgreens at 6818 N Armenia Ave. and stole 40 cartons of cigarettes.
- On Nov. 27, he stole 96 cartons of Marlboro cigarettes at West Shore Food Mart, 3446 S Westshore Blvd.
- On Nov. 23, the suspect took 40 cartons of cigarettes at Farm Store, 3815 S Manhattan Ave. He broke into the same convenience store two days later and took 25 cartons of cigarettes.
- On Nov. 13, , 6101 Interbay Blvd. The surveillance video shows the suspect placing the cigarette cartons in a garbage bin.
- On Nov. 4, 3318 Henderson Blvd. On Nov. 20, he broke into the same business and took 15 cartons of Marlboro cigarettes.
- On Oct. 30, , 3111 W Bay to Bay Blvd. At 5 a.m. on Nov. 22, he broke into the same business and stole 75 cartons of cigarettes. At 4.30 a.m. the same morning, the suspect broke into the BP gas station store at 301 N Dale Mabry Hwy., and took an undetermined number of cigarettes.
The suspect was described as a black male with distinctive teeth, 40-50 years old, approximately 6-foot-2 and about 200-240 pounds. He is known to wear gloves and a baseball cap during the burglaries.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Tampa Police Department at (813) 231-6130. Individuals wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.