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Lightning fan caught on camera stealing another fan's custom chair (w/video)

A surveillance photo shows the suspect in the chair theft.
A surveillance photo shows the suspect in the chair theft.
Published May 18, 2016

LITHIA — It was 4:13 a.m. Saturday and one Tampa Bay Lightning fan may have still been high off the Bolts' playoff win the night before.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were toast and this particular Tampa Bay fan may have felt the need to celebrate. Maybe he had a few too many drinks, maybe he was feeling spontaneous.

Maybe he's also one of the least stealthy thieves in the bay area.

Sporting a Steven Stamkos Lightning jersey (no, really), a man pulled up in front of a house in FishHawk Ranch in what looked like a light-colored pickup truck.

He walked up to the lighted front door. The bearded man (playoff beard?) then realized — belatedly, in full view of the camera — that he should pull the jersey over his face.

Then he helped himself to a custom Adirondack chair decorated with the Lightning logo and disappeared into the night.

But his mug was captured on Shane Newberg's home surveillance system.

"I'm shocked someone was brazen enough to do this," Newberg said.

Now, Newberg is hoping his security video will lead to an arrest.

The 44-year-old Lighting fan was stunned by the fan-on-fan abuse — from someone in a pricey jersey, no less.

"The jerseys are not cheap," Newberg said. "If someone can afford a jersey, why would they be running around stealing chairs?"

Newberg said he spotted some Adirondack-style chairs with the signature lightning bolt at an official team watch party. After scouring the Internet to no avail, he decided to make his own set. He ordered two chairs — one blue, one white — online for around $220. He and his two kids, ages 9 and 11, worked to get the stencils perfect and spray-painted the logos themselves. They were a Mother's Day gift last year for his wife, Lori Newberg.

The blue one was stolen.

Newberg thought about bolting them down, but didn't want to drill holes in the chair or the porch. He figured the five video cameras would be enough of a deterrent.

It wasn't. The Lightning beat the Penguins 3-1 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final Friday. Then, early Saturday morning, while the family slept, the chair bandit struck.

He wasn't alone. An accomplice also stole the family's Lightning flag, which they plant outside at the start of every season. But the footage of that theft isn't as clear the video of the chair theft, Newberg said.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating and has Newberg's security footage. Fellow fans, though, have mounted a social media campaign to return the stolen blue chair to its rightful place.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3400. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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