A 13-year-old's crime spree Tuesday night ended after about 90 minutes, thanks to an alert business owner.
The suspect, identified by Hillsborough County deputies as Tyee Spike, is accused of breaking into Dimples Playland daycare to steal the keys to a van, then stealing the van and driving about a mile down the road to Cell Tech off of S. 78th Street in East Tampa.
The owner of Cell Tech, Bilal Berjawi, said he was notified by someone who noticed the white van pull up to his business. That's when Berjawi began watching a live feed from his surveillance cameras.
"I knew something was going to happen, the way that he parked, he was either going to try to break in from the front or go to the back," Berjawi explained.
He was right.
Surveillance video shows Spike first walking around to the back of the store and pulling on a door, then climbing onto the roof, where - Berjawi believes - the teen was looking for a hole into the building.
"When I seen him go to the back, that's when we came here," Berjawi said.
In the meantime, Spike went back to the front of the business and acted like he was trying to unlock the door. Eventually, Berjawi and his brothers pulled up, blocked in the van and chased away the teenager.
Investigators said that's not when Spike's crime spree ended; he went back to the daycare and stole a second van.
Officers from the Tampa Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol and Hillsborough Sheriff's Office said they tried to catch up with Spike, but he briefly escaped during low-speed pursuit. He then crashed the second van on S. 78th Street in the Progress Village area and swiped a bicycled from a nearby home.
Deputies said they tracked him down and he was in custody by about 12:30 a.m.
"Within one hour and 25 minutes, he breaks into the daycare twice, steals two passenger vans, flees from three agencies, attempts another business burglary, steals a bicycle; he was very busy in that hour and a half," Hillsborough sheriff's spokesperson Cristal Nunez said. "It was good work by the three agencies to not put the rest of the community in danger by attempting to stop him."
Brian McEwen, Executive Director of Champions for Children, which is the company that operates Dimples daycare, said it's amazing no one was hurt.
"So many things that might have happened that didn't. I think part of this is just a case of luck that it wasn't worse than it was," he said, adding the incident was very upsetting. "Any time that your property is stolen from you, that's certainly a feeling of invasion and it just ain't (sic) right."
This was the 13-year-old's fifth arrest since September, according to deputies. He has faced almost 30 charges in those five months, including eight stemming from Tuesday's incidents.
Berjawi said he's glad he was watching his surveillance camera's video stream and hopes Spike learns a lesson.
"It's really said," he said. "I just feel bad because he's 13 years old. It's not supposed to happen like that."