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Detectives comb through hundreds of hours of videos to track down looters who targeted Tampa businesses

Posted at 11:20 AM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-12 23:13:45-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Police Department is hoping to identify looters seen storming a CVS in the USF area nearly two weeks ago.

Surveillance video and a 911 call from the scene have just been released to see if the public can help identify the suspects.

Detectives hoping to identify looters who stormed Tampa CVS during protests

It happened on May 30 at CVS at North 30th Street and East Fowler Avenue.

The crowd gathered in front of the store, which was closed due to the protests near University Square Mall, before shattering glass and raising the shutters to gain entry, according to TPD.

The two employees who were in the store at the time ran from the building, the police department said. The group in this video hijacked a peaceful protest and used it as an opportunity to commit acts of vandalism, theft, and destruction of property, TPD says.

Police say the group hijacked a peaceful protest. That weekend, dozens of businesses were vandalized or looted.

This was the same day a nearby Walmart was also looted.

Now, detectives are combing through hundreds of hours of video to find those responsible.

"We have a lot of technology at our disposal. It’s 2020, there’s facial recognition and once we take those pictures and put them out, there’s been an overwhelming amount of people in the community that have reached out and say, 'I know that person,'" said Detective Scott Savitt.

Savitt said they're getting tips, making arrests and recovering property. They've released several surveillance videos of incidents.

"The biggest one that I want seen is the arson at Champs. This is an individual that didn’t just want to steal some shoes or some shirts he wanted to destroy this business or this building, it’s people’s livelihoods," said Savitt. "It didn’t stop at Champs. It went into the restaurants next door all those businesses were affected."

One business impacted was Badar's Hair & All. The salon has been around for nearly three decades. The owner said glass was destroyed and a register was taken.

"It’s so hard, it’s so hard. I’m telling you. We open after two months and you know we worked only 4 or 5 days then this happened it’s sad," said the business owner Baddar Unnisa.

Thought the windows are still boarded up, Unnisa said they reopened this past Wednesday.

"It’s slow. People are scared to come to this plaza they call me 'oh we see that you have boarded is it open? Is it safe to come here?'" said Unnisa.

Meanwhile, police are asking the community to view the images too.

"We want people to be able to exercise their rights. We want you to do it safely. We don’t want your voice to be stolen by criminals. Work with us and we are happy to listen to your platform if you know someone that has stolen your voice by looting please contact us," said Savitt.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact Crimestoppers of Tampa Bay at 1-800-873-TIPS.