Tampa man arrested for string of thefts at USF

TAMPA, Fla. - A suspect police believe has been targeting the University of South Florida's campus for more than a month is now behind bars.

On Tuesday, University Police say they received a call from a member of the community who recognized the suspect from surveillance photos released last week in a crime alert. The caller reported the suspect, 22-year-old Tony M. Branton, was near the USF Health area.

Police say a USF police officer conducting a traffic crash investigation nearby also spotted the individual.

According to a news release, when police approached Branton he fled campus on a bicycle and attempted to evade contact with the officer. A perimeter was established and they found him hiding in the vicinity of 2811 Campus Hill Drive.

Branton is not affiliated with USF.

He is believed to have been behind a handful of thefts around campus.  Some of the items stolen include iPhones and the wallets of university staff.

"We're still trying to determine which cases he may be involved in," said Lt. Charlotte Domingo.

Branton is being charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property, and obstructing/opposing an officer without violence.

His criminal history includes burglary of an unoccupied structure, grand theft, and trespassing.

USF police say this should be a lesson for both students and staff.

"You always want to make sure you keep your belongings safe and that you lock them away. If you're going to leave an area, either secure it or take the items of value with you," said Domingo.

An investigation is ongoing to determine if Branton should be charged with any additional incidents.

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