Business owner thwarts serial robber, deputies say - FOX 13 News

Business owner thwarts serial robber

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BRANDON (FOX 13) -

An accused serial burglar who hit the same thrift shop in Brandon a half dozen times is in jail thanks to the actions of a Good Samaritan, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said Friday.

Detectives said surveillance video caught William Leon, 36, breaking into the loading dock area of Lighthouse Ministries Family Store on E. Brandon Boulevard, then loading up his pickup truck with items.

Gary Olson, a nearby business owner, said he saw what was going on and acted quickly.

"He got up in there and started grabbing stuff and throwing it into the truck," Olson said. "I grabbed the fence, pulled the fence shut...and I just stood here and told him, I can't let you go. We'll wait until a deputy gets here."

A deputy was across the street watching the store, which investigators said Leon had burglarized successfully five previous times, and arrested the Plant City man.

"That was a bold brave move on [Olson's] part," said Ed Kulik, who is an assistant manager at the Lighthouse Ministries store. "There's no telling how that guy was going to react when he shut the gate on him and he didn't hesitate."

Investigators believe Leon was stealing items he could pawn as scrap metal.

Kulik said the burglaries have been frustrating because the items on sale and the profits from the store often help less fortunate families.

"You don't see those kinds of things that often. But even more so than that, I think you don't hear about things like that often enough," he said.

Olson said he doesn't consider his actions heroic, just something any friendly neighbor would do.

"I'm no hero by any means whatsoever. I'm just a Good Samaritan," he said.

Leon faces more than 20 charges relating to all of the burglaries.

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