What began in September as a single armed robbery at a Gunn Highway Papa John’s has turned into a string of incidents that crosses two counties.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies are now turning to the public for help in identifying a man they say might be responsible for the string of restaurant robberies, which includes an incident in Lutz. The suspect description is unclear at this point since he wore a black ski mask in the robberies, but surveillance photos have been released.
According to the sheriff’s office, the man has struck five restaurants since Sept. 23. In each incident, he broke a window of a closed business with a brick to get inside. Once in, the armed man approached employees to demand money. After receiving cash, the suspect fled without incident in each case.
The man is wanted in connection with these robberies:
- Papa John’s Pizza, 7891 Gunn Highway in Tampa on Sept. 23
- Pizza Hut, 4535 East Bay Drive in Clearwater on Sept. 25
- Pizza Hut, 902 W. Busch Blvd. in Tampa on Oct. 7
- Wendy’s Restaurant, 13712 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in Tampa on Oct. 14
- Pizza Hut, 17420 U.S. Highway 41 North in Lutz on Oct. 16.
Surveillance photos were captured during the Tampa Wendy’s robbery.
Anyone with information about the suspect or the robberies is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 813-247-8200. To be eligible for a cash reward, tipsters should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477). Tips may also be reported anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com or by texting "CSTB plus your tip" to C-R-I-M-E-S (274637).