CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - CMPD is seeing a rash of forced entry burglaries this summer.
Overnight surveillance video shows a man using a large rock to break out a window in the BP Food Mart in the University area on Back Creek Drive.
He forces his way through the glass shards, triggers the burglar alarm, but quickly goes to work filling a plastic sack with cartons and individual packs of cigarettes. The store owner estimate he stole $1,500 worth of smokes and other small items.
He's long gone by the time police arrive.
We know he's a black male about 6-feet tall, wearing a baseball cap and t-shirt with a software company logo on it.
It seems like risky work to steal cigarettes.
"It's worth it to them," said Detective Marty Cuthbertson. "But to the company, it's a big loss because they have to do repairs to the business, plus recoup the losses."
Two nights later, at the same store, the man we saw in the baseball cap, is now seen picking up rocks in the parking lot. This time he has an accomplice who covers his face with his shirt.
They use another large rock to break the same window and crawl in. Together, they fill their bags with an estimated $1,100 worth of cigarettes.
Police are convinced it's the same guys who may be responsible for even more Charlotte break-ins.
So the question I posed to Detective Cuthbertson is, because we're seeing a lot of forced entry burglaries, is it because there are more, or, is it because surveillance in stores has gotten so much better?
"I think it's a combination of both. The surveillance video has kind of been a deterrent to people that know that once we show these videos, they're less likely to come back to these businesses."
If you can help police stop these smash and grab cigarette thieves, call Crimestoppers at (704) 334-1600. There is a $1,000 reward available.