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Thief hid face with underwear while stealing Walmart electronics, sheriff says

Emiliano Santos is a suspect in three similar thefts at Tampa Walmarts, two of them on Wednesday morning.
Emiliano Santos, 49, faces charges including grand theft third degree while wearing a mask.
Emiliano Santos, 49, faces charges including grand theft third degree while wearing a mask. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Apr. 17, 2020

TAMPA — To help stop the spread of coronavirus, Hillsborough County leaders on Wednesday considered forcing people to don masks in stores.

The same day, Emiliano Santos was arrested for doing just that, deputies said. Except Santos’ mask was underwear, and he wore it while stealing electronics from one of several Walmart stores he’s suspected of hitting, deputies said.

“This repeat offender doesn’t seem to learn his lesson,” said Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister. “I hope his third arrest for the same type of crime will be his final."

Santos, 49, faces charges including grand theft third degree while wearing a mask and possession or use of a shoplifting device in connection with thefts at two Tampa Wal-Mart stores Wednesday morning.

Sometime before 8:40 a.m., Santos entered the Walmart store at 6192 Gunn Hwy., pried open a display case, removed about $1,600 worth of electronics and placed them in an empty box of children’s toys, deputies said.

He paid the value of the toys but was stopped by loss-prevention employees as he left.

Deputies arrested Santos and said they later learned he appeared to be the same suspect who committed similar thefts at other Walmarts in Central Florida.

One of the thefts was earlier Wednesday, from the Walmart store at 7011 W. Waters Ave. Santos opened a display case and stole about $2,800 worth of electronics — this time, while concealing his face with underwear, deputies said.

Santos also is suspected in the theft of $1,500 in electronics Feb. 11 from a Walmart 6192 Gunn Hwy., deputies said.

Investigators with the Sheriff’s Office and Tampa Police Department are investigating three additional cases where the suspect used a similar approach.