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UP detains suspected thief

The prime suspect in a recent rash of bicycle thefts left campus last week with nothing more than a warning.

Police had too little evidence to charge him.

He was back at USF on Thursday, but this time he left campus in a patrol car.

Michael Smith, 33, whose last known address was 10910 19th St. N., was arrested Thursday and charged with loitering and trespassing after warning, according to a University Police report.

Sgt. Tom Bobrowski said UP is weighing whether they have enough evidence to charge him with the thefts.

“If he spends a few days in jail and the thefts stop, then we’ll know he’s our man,” said Bobrowski.

Thirty-two bikes have been snatched from campus bike racks since the fall semester began, according to UP reports. That represents a significant spike over past semesters, said UP spokeswoman Meg Ross.

Corporal Michael Rapp spotted Smith stalking bike racks near Magnolia dorms at 4:01 p.m. Thursday, the report

stated.

After a search, Rapp found bolt cutters in Smith’s backpack.

When questioned, Smith said he was passing through campus, according to the report.

“When you see someone that age who looks like he did hanging around near bike racks, it can’t help but arouse suspicion,” Bobrowski said.

Rapp first stopped Smith last week when he was observed riding a bike while pulling another behind him. Police were forced to release Smith with a trespassing warning when the serial numbers on the two bikes didn’t match numbers for any of those reported stolen, Rapp said.

Smith had a prior arrest for grand theft in April, Rapp said.

Smith is being held at the Orient County Jail on a $750 bond.

Christine Gibson can be reached at (813) 974-6299 or oraclegibson@gmail.com