Cameras capture car crashing into convenience store

5:32 PM, Jul 18, 2013   |    comments
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SEFFNER, Florida -- Shelves and glass go flying as a car smashes through Seffner Food Mart.

But the crash you see unfold in the convenience store's surveillance video is no accident. The cameras then capture the vehicle backing up, the headlights turning off, and a man crawling inside the store through broken windows, combing through cabinets behind the cash register before grabbing cigarettes.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says the man has been taken into custody. He was first transported to a local hospital to be evaluated after deputies say he also rammed his vehicle into a house's fence about a mile and a half from Seffner Food Mart. The car narrowly missed a family's bedroom.  

"It's overwhelming," says Tara Hathcox, a frequent customer at Seffner Food Mart. "It's really overwhelming that [the suspect] had to do this."

Customers can't believe that someone would recklessly and intentionally cause such significant damage, then sneak out of the store through shattered glass and mangled metal. But Philip Thayil, a friend of the store's owner who helps with its repairs, says similar break-ins have occurred there before.

"I've fixed this place three or four times after somebody breaks in, within the last two or three years. I don't know what we can do. Again and again, the same thing's happening," he says. "I feel really bad because I know these people are working hard. The same guys stand in there morning to evening."

An updated report from HCSO says the suspect's car crash wasn't his first stop at the food store that night. Six hours before he drove through the doors, the suspect apparently robbed the clerk of his wallet, and even took his set of store keys.

The clerk was reportedly sitting out front of the store because of a power outage when it happened around 9:30. 

The suspect ran away, and, according to updates, used the clerk's stolen credit card to make three separate purchases. But while he was shopping, officials say the store clerk was changing the store's locks, and securing the doors with a chain. 

Deputies didn't say so, but the new locks and chains on the doors could be what stood in the way of the suspect using the stolen keys to get in. 

The investigation continues.

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