Local News

Raleigh Circle K hit twice by cigarette thieves

Posted January 4, 2010 6:04 p.m. EST
Updated January 4, 2010 6:52 p.m. EST

Police investigating the theft of thousands of cigarettes from the same Raleigh convenience store in less than 10 days say they don't believe the two incidents are connected.

In both cases, someone stole dozens of cartons of cigarettes from the Circle K at 11700 New Leesville Blvd.

The first theft occurred Dec. 21 when, police said , someone threw a rock through the store window, causing $300 worth of damage. The store reported 60 cartons, each valued between $43 and $48, had been stolen.

The second theft occurred Dec. 30, police said, when someone drove a pickup truck into the store.

Customer Tim Urdi drove by the store at about 1:30 a.m., shortly after the robbery occurred.

"There was glass hanging and doors smashed out of the store like someone just crashed into it," he said. "I had no idea they actually robbed the place. I thought it was an accident and someone left."

Surveillance photos show two people wearing ski masks loading cigarettes into garbage cans and putting them into the back of a red pickup truck that they used to smash through the front door of the store.

"I thought somebody had too much to drink, crashed into the store and took off," Urdi said. "It turns out it was a planned, calculated robbery."

Raleigh police say "smash and grabs" of cigarettes at retailers are not unusual but that thieves don't usually hit the same store twice or drive a vehicle through the front door.

Still, they are asking anyone with information on the thefts to come forward.

"It's a real nice family neighborhood, and for something like that to happen so close to home," Urdi said, "it's scary."