4 arrested after breaking into Tampa stores, leading police on 3-county chase

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Dramatic video shows a group of people breaking in, then piling in, to a cell phone store in Hillsborough County.

The video shows a black Audi come to a screeching halt. A parade of people then pile out and rush toward the front door. The first person breaks the glass and it rains down. Then, they’re in.

“The video is crystal clear. They didn’t show very much hesitation. They had a plan, they executed their plan then they left very fast to go on to the next one,” said Danny Alvarez, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

By the time sheriff’s deputies got to the Metro PCS store on Bearss Avenue, the thieves had disappeared into the darkness of the night, but not before ransacking the place for cash and cell phones.

Then on Wednesday morning, Tampa police officers got an alarm call from an AT&T store on West Kennedy Boulevard that involved a striking similarity: five people were on the property, up to no good.

The store manager thinks she knows why.

“Every time an iPhone is launched, we are targeted for carrying over thousand dollar devices in the store,” Tarsis Martelli said.

With no success, the group moved on. But officers moved in.

Investigators tell News Channel 8 the suspects led them on a high-speed chase into St. Petersburg then back to Tampa. It finally came to an end in Polk County.

Cops arrested four of the five people, but the driver remains at large.

The four suspects who were arrested have been identified as 23-year-old Jamal Lafortune of Orlando, 20-year-old Kris Jimmell Leon Hooks of Orlando, a 17-year-old from Orlando and a 15-year-old from Ocoee.

Officers said their Chevy Equinox was stolen as was at least one gun found in the SUV.

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