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Tampa PD arrests serial business burglary suspect

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Tampa Police have arrested a suspect linked to at least four business burglaries in the city.

Just before 5 AM on September 16, 2022, the front glass door of the Vincent & Tampa Cigar Company, located at 3103 N Howard Ave, was shattered after a suspect threw a rock through the window to gain entry. Once inside, the suspect targeted the cash drawer, stealing an unknown amount of money before fleeing the business on a bicycle.

Tampa Police identified the burglary as being a part of a pattern crime in the area. Through video surveillance and additional evidence at the scene, detectives identified Tommy Lee Russell, 53, as the suspect. On September 21, Russell was located and questioned regarding the incident. He confessed to burglarizing the cigar business, along with committing a similar offense at the Tampa Steak Company.

On September 5, the Tampa Steak Company, located at 1720 W Columbus Drive, was targeted when the front glass window was smashed in with a brick. Unable to enter the locked door, the suspect left on a bicycle.

Russell was later identified as the suspect seen on surveillance video also burglarizing La Oriental Bakery, located at 3117 W Columbus Dr, and Chiles Mexican Restaurant, located at 3247 W Columbus Dr. In both instances, the suspect used a brick to smash the front glass door, and once inside, he sought out the cash register.

Russell has been charged with four counts of burglary of an unoccupied structure. Detectives believe he could be linked to additional business burglaries. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information regarding these incidents is asked to contact the Tampa Police Department at 813-231-6130.

Surveillance video from the Tampa Steak Company can be viewed on our TampaPD YouTube account.