Local News

Bandits Tap Busy Convenience Stores for Beer Heists

Posted December 21, 2006 6:19 p.m. EST
Updated December 21, 2006 6:47 p.m. EST

— A group of brazen thieves has been snatching beer right out of the coolers at local convenience stores, police said.

The Family Fare BP on Hillandale Road has been hit more than a dozen times in the last two or three months, police said. The Durham County Sheriff's Office said they are looking at the same suspects in connection with thefts from at least four other area stores.

"They're slick. They're pros at it," said Michael Butler, a clerk at Family Fare BP.

"They're in and out of there in 15 to 20 seconds," said Kammie Michael, spokeswoman for the Durham Police Department.

Surveillance cameras have captured the bandits on tape, but they apparently don't care who sees the heist.

"That's how they get us," Butler said. "They wait until we're really busy."

Police said they don't believe the crooks are getting crocked. Rather, they're cashing in.

"It's a possibility they're snatching it and then actually going into communities and selling it," said Detective Larry Kelly of the Durham County Sheriff's Office.

Kelly said the possible ringleader has a very distinct look.

"We've noticed he's extremely pigeon toed and he's always wearing Michael Jordan black-and-white sneakers," he said.

In addition to giving investigators a good look at the suspects, the surveillance cameras have given them a taste of what the bandits are taking.

"The beer we see stolen most often is Bud Light and Corona," Michael said.

Authorities call such petty thefts a gateway crime. "Small crimes lead to bigger crimes, and we want to curb that," Kelly said.

A $1,000 reward is being offered for tips that lead to an arrest and conviction, and the stores hope that spotlighting the suspects will quench their thirst for crime.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Durham County Sheriff's Office at 919-560-0880.