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3 UA football players stop theft of jerseys

A University of Arizona running back used his speed to foil a sports jersey theft from a campus-area athletic store last week.

And he did it barefoot – with some help from two teammates.

On June 13, just before closing time at 9 p.m., two males walked into Campus Athletics, in the 900 block of East University Avenue, and one walked out with about 20 jerseys, said Tucson Police officer Frank Amado.

Terry Longbons, a redshirt freshman running back from Peoria, said he saw the suspect leave the store.

“There was one guy who was acting like a distraction, looking like he was going to buy some stuff. Another guy had an armful of jerseys near the door, and he just took off,” he said.

Longbons ran after the guy.

“I was in my sandals, and I had to kick them off after a while,” he said. “I chased him down an alley next to the store, and we ended going around all the stores.”

That’s when sophomore quarterback Willie Tuitama and sophomore linebacker Adrian McCovy saw the chase.

“We took off across the street and I cut him off. He dropped the jerseys, and Terry grabbed him,” Tuitama said.

Tuitama said the jerseys were all replicas of former UA receiver Syndric Steptoe’s No. 1 jersey. They sell for $60.

After surrounding the man, the football players tried to “scare him a little bit,” Longbons said, but let him go and returned the jerseys to the store, where the police got involved.

The owner of Campus Athletics offered them a reward, but the players did not accept it, avoiding any possible NCAA rules violations.

“It was a helpful thing to do,” Longbons said. “You don’t really need any reward from it.”

No suspects have been caught , Amado said.

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