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Rooftop burglar hits two stores

Spiderman strikes again. Twice, in fact.

Just when detectives thought he was slowing down, a lithe, wall-scaling burglar who breaks in through rooftops hit two South Tampa businesses sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The latest break-ins occurred at Sunkote Paint Center, 102 N Tampania Ave., and Blinds to Go, 625 N Dale Mabry Highway.

That brings to 41 the number of commercial burglaries in South Tampa that detectives have tied to the elusive burglar, who first struck in September.

The Sex Shop on N Dale Mabry, the Krispy Kreme and the Ya-Ya's restaurant on Kennedy Boulevard, Bayshore Plastic Surgery _ he shimmied and crawled his way into all of them, earning him the comic book nickname from authorities.

Police say he might even be responsible for a recent break-in at a Pinellas UPS store.

He typically enters an air conditioning vent from the roof and maneuvers until he gets inside the business, in some cases without ever tripping a burglar alarm or motion detector, said Tampa police Sgt. Jim Contento.

He wears knee pads and what looks like a sweat suit, according to security photos. His hands and face are covered. And because he goes in through the roof, he gets in and out without being seen.

Police have a helicopter and a 20-officer team on extra patrol in the area between midnight and 6 a.m., so far to no avail.

Thursday, as he stood outside the Blinds to Go, Contento admitted being frustrated.

"I don't see how he does it," he said. "He goes in through these AC systems, and it's dangerous. It's small, it's dark. There's big metal screws sticking out.

"He's committed over 80 felonies, and for what? Small chump change," he said. "But when we catch him, he'll pay a dear price."

Before Thursday, Spiderman hadn't struck in two weeks. Authorities figured he might have gotten arrested, or simply got tired of his routine.

Rebecca Kimmitz, a manager in training at Blinds to Go, learned otherwise when she arrived at work after 9 a.m. Thursday.

She walked to the front register and saw a mess where a burglar had broken into the safe. There wasn't much cash in it, Kimmitz said, but he took what was there. He left a trail of dimes, and a shoe print on a back counter, which he apparently stepped on as he shimmied back up through the ceiling to the roof some 15 feet above.

"He took the pennies, though," Kimmitz said. "Every single roll is gone."

Anyone with information is asked to call Tampa police at 231-6130.

_ Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler can be reached at 226-3373 or svansicklersptimes.com.

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