Man and teen arrested for alleged attempted on-campus bicycle theft

A Tampa man who has accumulated eight arrests since 2005 was booked for his ninth while trespassing on campus grounds last week.

Thomas Theodore James, 24, of Tampa, was arrested Wednesday at 9:44 p.m. after allegedly attempting to steal a bicycle outside of the Juniper-Poplar residence hall.

University Police (UP) spokesman Lt. Christopher Daniel said the incident was reported by a third-party witness.

“(The witness) saw these guys around a bike rack, thought it looked suspicious (and) thought they were trying to steal bikes,” he said.

A juvenile accompanied James. However, he was the first to attempt to flee the scene once UP arrived.

“The juvenile stayed,” Daniel said. “The officer made contact, and Thomas James was belligerent towards him and he took off running.”

Daniel said one of the officers saw James scale a fence into a construction site, where he became trapped during a 40-minute standoff that ended when he was bitten by a police dog.

“The officers set up a perimeter around the area to contain the subject,” he said. “We had to call the county for the canine assistance. We had to wait for their arrival because we (didn’t) know if the guy was armed or not,” he said.

A dog from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit discovered James. He attempted to grab the dog, but it retaliated.

“When the dog finally sniffed him out, I guess he apparently sat up and tried to grab the dog and received a bite to the left leg,” Daniel said. “We called the basic life support outfit, which is our standard procedure, and had him checked. They medically cleared him, and he didn’t require any further treatment. We took him to Hillsborough County Central booking Facility.”

James was charged with trespassing in a construction site with a $2,000 bond, loitering or prowling with a $1 bond and resisting arrest with a $500 bond.

However, bond was revoked Thursday due to a bond violation from a Sept. 9 arrest for delivery and possession of cocaine, as well as obstructing or opposing an officer without violence.

On Sept. 11, he was released from jail on a surety bond – a bond paid by a third party when the prisoner cannot afford to pay it. That bond was set at $10,500.

The juvenile accomplice was charged with loitering and prowling and was released into the custody of a parent. Daniel said no property was reportedly stolen or recovered. Neither individual shares an affiliation with USF.

Daniel said he was not sure which construction site James hid in, only that it was in the Juniper-Poplar area. He said that after an “uncharacteristically high” spike in criminal activity at the start of the semester, things had settled down until recently.

“We made some contacts, we made some arrests and crime seemed to have diminished,” he said. “Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a few more, but nothing really extraordinary at this point. Students, staff or faculty, anybody, we always encourage to lock up valuables to keep things that are personal and valuable to you secure.”

Daniel said UP will continue to conduct routine patrols around campus, while encouraging the community to report any odd activity.

“The campus is just a part of the community around us,” he said. “It doesn’t have walls or fences, so it’s a public access university, and with that, we always have the risk of somebody coming out there to commit offenses and take advantage of opportunities.”