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Man faces charges in muggings

After a car chase, police arrest a man they say tried to rob three women in 40 minutes.

A man accused of trying to rob three women in 40 minutes was arrested Sunday morning in downtown St. Petersburg after a six-block car chase.

Antonio R. Mota of 762 12th Ave. N was arrested on charges of robbery and fleeing and eluding police after witnesses or victims in each robbery reported his license plate number.

St. Petersburg police Detective Carl Watts said more charges could be coming.

The first robbery occurred at 7:30 a.m. at 2801 22nd Ave. N, where the victim, 43-year-old Janet Brandt of Safety Harbor, was using a pay phone. When she began to leave, the robber took her coin purse, police said.

The second incident occurred at 7:57 a.m. in front of St. Jude's Cathedral, 5815 Fifth Ave. N, where police say the suspect stole the purse of an elderly woman.

The woman's identity was not available. Police said the victim suffered minor injuries and was transported to an area hospital for treatment.

The third robbery took place at 8:11 a.m. in the parking lot of Kmart, 2800 34th St. The victim, Marjorie Souder, 84, was able to close the door of her car before the robber stole her purse, police said.

Minutes later, police located the suspect's car waiting for a stoplight to turn green at the intersection of Second Avenue N and Third Street.

When the officer turned on his lights, Mota took off, police say. He allegedly drove through red lights and reached speeds of up to 55 mph while fleeing police.

"After about six blocks, he bailed out of the car and tried to run," St. Petersburg police Sgt. Rollin Lightfield said.

"The car kept running and rolled into a street sign."

Mota was being held late Sunday at the Pinellas County Jail on $51,500 bail.