CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - There usually isn't much cash in a convenience store. But in lieu of cash, there is something criminals covet - cigarettes.
At the Circle K on South Boulevard, there were plenty of customers in the store, including a man wearing a Chicago Bulls cap who paid for an Orange Crush soda, then milled around.
"It was 11:30 at night," said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) Detective Tori Roddey. "There were a lot of people, but you can tell that all the time he was wasting, he was kind of waiting until everybody cleared out."
When the store emptied out, the Orange Crush man suddenly appeared and surprised the clerk.
"Caught the [clerk] kind of off guard and put the gun up to his ribs," Roddey said. "It was a black handgun and told him, 'give me the money.'"
At first, the clerk emptied out his cash register. There wasn't much cash there, less than 40 bucks. But the bad guy wanted more. They ended up at a second register with just about the same scant amount of money as the first.
"He still didn't get a lot of money," Detective Roddey said. "He got more in cigarettes."
And he wanted the same brand we see over and over in convenience store robberies.
"The clerk asked him, 'what brand?' Then the clerk answered for him, 'Newports?' And he said, 'yeah.' He kind of like knew that was the brand he wanted."
It's the brand of choice because it brings big bucks on the black market. Besides the Chicago Bulls cap, police believe this man may have been from out of town.
"We're thinking this is a transient from up north, because first of all, he had a heavy New York accent, so we're thinking probably from up north somewhere, probably here for a little while, maybe do a couple robberies then head back up."
Detective Roddey believes the crook knew someone in this area, someone he was visiting or staying with.
If you have information that helps catch him, call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 and you could earn some Christmas cash the honest way.