Tampa officers catch man suspected of 4 gas station robberies

Crime

TAMPA (WFLA) — A man was arrested Monday morning after robbing four gas stations around Tampa over a span of a week, the Tampa Police Department said.

Samuel Jerome Smith, 26, is suspected of committing armed robberies at a Circle K, two 7-Eleven stores, and a Marathon between Dec. 22 and Dec. 30. He was finally arrested after the Marathon robbery around 4:30 a.m. Monday.

Police say each time Smith robbed a gas station, he entered with a black semi-automatic handgun and demanded cash. Video surveillance from the Dec. 22 robbery at a Circle K on Hillsborough Avenue showed Smith leaving in a light colored four-door sedan.

Tampa officers were conducting proactive patrols around local gas stations Monday morning when they noticed a light colored Chevy Malibu that matched the description from the Dec. 22 robbery. The registered owner of the vehicle, Smith, matched the suspect description.

Officers said Smith exited his vehicle at a Circle K at 15th and Fowler Avenue, but turned around when he noticed the store’s doors were locked. Officers then followed him to a 7-Eleven at 56th and Puritan Road where they said he approached the business, but turned around after seeing the amount of customers inside.

Finally at 4:20 a.m., officers said Smith went to the Marathon gas station at 43012 West Hillsborough Avenue where he committed another armed robbery. He was arrested on Belle Chase Circle after fleeing the scene. His gun was recovered from under the driver’s seat of his car.

The police department said Smith confessed to three robberies prior to the one at Marathon.

Smith is charged with four courts of armed robbery.

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