Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

While his cafe is being burgled, owner takes off in suspect's truck

LUTZ — In the Dominican Republic, they say that every cat in the night is black.

This is what Agustin De Jesus, 47, thought when he heard a prowler rummaging around his restaurant, Rosa's Cafe, at 4 a.m.

De Jesus moved from the Dominican Republic to Tampa about three years ago. He bought Rosa's Cafe in Lutz, where the ropa vieja and picadillo are delicious and the hours are long — De Jesus typically works 17-hour days. He set up a cot in a back room so he can sleep at the restaurant when he's too tired for the half-hour drive to his North Tampa home.

Tuesday morning, Pasco deputies said the black cat in De Jesus' restaurant was Leonard Levy, a Land O'Lakes custodian whose rap sheet includes about 20 arrests that run the gamut from a robbery when he was 17 to larceny and cocaine possession.

De Jesus said he saw Levy rummaging in his cash drawer. He also saw a Ford Ranger pickup truck waiting behind his restaurant. The keys were in the ignition. The engine was running.

The Pasco County Sheriffs's Office received the first call from Levy, who reported his vehicle stolen. Then they got a call from De Jesus, who had driven the Ranger to his home and called the Sheriff's Office to report the burglary at his restaurant.

The truck, he felt, was his only option. There are a few businesses in the same strip mall as his cafe. But he was leery of trying to find help at that hour.

"What kind of neighbor can you find at 4 in the morning?" De Jesus said Tuesday during the lunch rush at Rosa's.

In the Dominican Republic, he ran a market. This was the business owner's first brush with a burglar. Despite his ordeal, De Jesus kept it all in perspective.

"I'm okay," he said. "I'm alive."

Levy had popped off the cafe's doorknob and pried the rear door open, according to deputies' reports. De Jesus said the burglar made off with more than $2,000 in cash.

De Jesus came back to the scene to identify the burglar.

"That's when Levy said, 'Well, that's the guy who stole my truck,' " sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin said.

De Jesus was not arrested. "He's the victim," Tobin said.

Levy also was arrested and charged with several other burglaries in the area. Deputies said Levy broke into at least eight businesses in April, including Kim Bo Chinese Restaurant in Land O'Lakes and Little Feet Shoes in Wesley Chapel. Deputies did not say how much money he got away with.

In an interview with deputies, Levy, 55, said he had served 13 years in state prison and another arrest would put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Levy is at the Land O'Lakes Jail in lieu of $75,500 bail. He was charged with multiple counts of burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (352) 521-6518.

While his cafe is being burgled, owner takes off in suspect's truck 04/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2008 6:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  4. Fennelly: About time Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    It's Andy's time.

    And it's about time.

    Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He had been eligible since 2009, a ridiculously long wait for someone who scored 640 goals, including a record 274 on the power play.

    LEFT: Dave Andreychuk talks at the podium as he is honored with a statue in front of the now-Amalie Arena.
  5. British government says 75 out of 75 buildings failed fire safety tests

    World

    LONDON — Britain on Monday confronted a rapidly growing fire safety crisis after tests of the exterior cladding on dozens of public housing towers revealed a 100 percent failure rate, raising fears that this month's deadly inferno in London could be repeated elsewhere.

    Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, presents his first Chrono-Hologram in Paris, France, in 1973. A Spanish judge on Monday June 26, 2017, has ordered the remains of artist Salvador Dali to be exhumed following a paternity suit by a woman named by Europa Press agency as Pilar Abel, 61 from the nearby city of Girona. Dali, considered one of the fathers of surrealism in art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeastern town of Figueres. [Associated Press]