David Paul Felix got out of prison in June after serving nearly four years for a series of burglaries.
It didn't take him long to pick up old habits, police said.
Authorities arrested the 22-year-old St. Petersburg man, whom they say is responsible for a string of commercial burglaries, early Friday outside the B&N Market at 4534 Chancellor St. NE.
"He was caught in the act," police spokesman Mike Puetz said. "He was spotted attempting to throw a pice of concrete through a window."
Detectives have been on the hunt since Oct. 22, the night they believe Felix began his string of crimes. They believe he committed a dozen burglaries at southern Pinellas County convenience stores since then, although at this point he is charged in five cases.
Puetz said security cameras at many stores revealed a pattern.
A masked man would break a window overnight at a closed business. "He'd load up on the cigarettes and flee the store before police responded to the alarm," Puetz said.
Detectives began doing surveillance around the city.
During one such night last week, they stumbled upon an unrelated armed robbery at a 7-Eleven at 62nd Avenue N. and Fourth Street. Undercover detectives shot and killed one of the two suspects after a confrontation.
They were on another stake out early Friday near the B&N Market, which was broken into on Oct. 22. The thief then got away with $7,000 to $8,000 worth of merchandise, owner Dazi Rahman said.
During the stakeout, officers saw Felix drive up to the store just after midnight, Puetz said. They arrested him without incident.
Officials think Felix may have committed other crimes, including residential burglaries, in the past couple months. They also said one of the security tapes showed a second suspect.
"We're going to be looking at him in a host of other incidents," Puetz said.
Felix was in the Pinellas County Jail on Friday in lieu of $30,000 bail.