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Escapee From Tarpon Springs Facility Captured

Department of Corrections
Department of Corrections (2014)
Booking photo of Raul Diaz
Booking photo of Raul Diaz

Escapee From Tarpon Springs Facility Captured

Posted: November 12, 2015

A Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy arrested a man that escaped from a Tarpon Springs Department of Correction Facility on October 12, 2015.

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On November 5, 2015, 27 year-old Raul Diaz was stopped in Clearwater near the intersection of McMullen Booth Road and State Road 580.  Diaz was stopped at approximately 2:43 AM for not having functional bicycle lights.  Initially, Diaz gave the name of his brother to the deputy to avoid being arrested.  Using a mobile fingerprint scanner**, the deputy was able to positively identify Raul Diaz who had a warrant out for his arrest from the Florida Department of Corrections.

Diaz was serving 26 months in the custody of the Department of Corrections for his role in a grand theft and burglary case out of Hillsborough County when he left the facility.

On October 12th at about 10:30 AM, a day after his escape, Clearwater Police were called to Westfield Countryside Mall by someone who reported seeing escaped inmate Raul Diaz. An employee and inmate from The Transition House were at the mall that morning for a job interview when they spotted Raul Diaz on the bicycle. When they yelled his name, he jumped off the bike and ran. He later entered the mall on the second floor on the north side and ran through the mall. He exited the southeast side of the Mall at Macy’s and ran from the mall in a southeast direction.

Multiple Clearwater Police units converged on the scene after the initial call. It was uncertain at the outset whether Diaz was still inside the mall and police controlled who went in and out of the mall for a short time. After officers were able to ascertain that Diaz quickly ran through the mall in about a minute, normal mall operations resumed.

Raul is being held without bail in the Pinellas County Jail for the FL Department of Corrections. His new charges include providing a false name/identity to law enforcement.

**The Sheriff’s Office began utilizing mobile fingerprint scanners earlier this year after they purchased over 60 devices.  After obtaining a fingerprint, the device looks for a match in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and specific Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) databases.  It supplements the facial recognition technology which has been utilized for years by the Sheriff’s Office.  This mobile fingerprint technology is also being utilized by many other Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies.

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