"Burrito Bandit" tries to steal breakfast, cops say

10:15 AM, Feb 11, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - For many of us, that first meal of the day can make all the difference. If people don't eat, sometimes they can't make rash decisions. 

Such seems to be case with a mystery shopper caught on surveillance tape at a Hess gas station at 1444 E. Fletcher near Nebraska Avenue.

A man, nicknamed the "Burrito Bandit," is seen on tape walking into the store to purchase a breakfast burrito on November 12, 2009 just before 7 a.m.

The problem started when the man tried to buy the burrito with food stamps, which isn't allowed. 

Food stamps are supposed to be used to purchase staple items, such as milk and bread. But this guy wasn't taking no for an answer, and things got heated in a matter of minutes.

The young man, wearing a tie and dressed in a black shirt and pants, begins arguing with a clerk.  He is seen waving his hands and causing commotion.

The current manager at the Hess store says the former manager tried to defuse the situation. 

Store manager Belal Saed tells us, "If they're on something, they're just going to snap, and just they're not going to stop until they get it their way."

Since the young man in question is still on the loose, detectives do not know if he was, in fact, high on any narcotics during the incident.

Saed says he's used to dealing with crazy people, but he worries about the safety of his other customers.

"In the morning we're very, very busy.  Probably more than 30 at a time to get coffee, breakfast and gas," Saed admits.

But this customer, Saed tells us, was there to cause trouble.

The man came in and out of the store three times. The last time he walked in, he is seen brandishing a knife with a three-inch blade.

On the tape, detectives say you can see the man holding the knife and lunging toward the clerk. After this battle over breakfast began, the incident suddenly turned into a felony: assault with a deadly weapon.

Detective Lisa Haber with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office admits there's not much that shocks her, but this case, she says, got her attention. 

"I'm a little bit amazed this is over something so minor. We're talking about two people who don't even know each other. We're talking about perfect strangers," Detective Haber says.

Detectives say the Burrito Bandit got away in a dark 2000 Dodge Durango, possibly gray or black in color.

If you know who the "Burrito Bandit" is, you are eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Visit the Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay website.

Melanie Brooks, 10 Connects

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