Clearwater, Florida -- A Bay area man, who chased after another man accused of stealing from him, told 10 News about the theft that sparked up a SWAT standoff for hours along U.S. 19 North Tuesday morning.'
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"It is almost surreal. I couldn't believe I had to deal with it," said Robert Stipins.
It all started when deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said 23-year-old David Shaffer tripped the panic alarm in Stipins' taxi while stealing his backpack inside.
Stipins, who works for Yellow Cab, was contacted by his company. When he went to check out his taxi, which was parked at a nearby storage facility, he said he saw Shaffer trying to run away with his backpack. Inside were Stipins' important items, including his 45-caliber gun and wallet.
"I heard somebody climbing over a chain link. So I went to the front of the place. We had a brief confrontation in which he said something like, 'back off or you'll get shot.' And then he ran," said Stipins.
Stipins said he chased Shaffer to the nearby America's Best Value Inn and called police.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says once Shaffer ran inside his room he refused to come out. His girlfriend, we're told, was also inside with him.
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Deputies said they were able to talk to Shaffer without any luck. So they sent in a SWAT team. All the people at the motel were evacuated while deputies negotiated.
At one point, deputies said Shaffer wanted to trade prescriptions pills for his surrender. He eventually gave up hours later.
Stipins says he's grateful it's all over.
"I'm happy to have my things back. I just want to go back to work," said the cab driver.
Shaffer is charged with one count of Armed Burglary. He does have an arrest history which includes charges of Leaving the Scene of a Crash and Theft.