CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Lightning may never strike twice in the same place, but crime does.
The My Freedom Smokes shop along I-85 in West Charlotte was robbed twice on back-to-back nights. What's more, it was robbed in similar fashion just nine months ago.
In all three cases, a well-disguised man broke through the front door glass. On surveillance, we see him pick up rocks from the parking lot and throw them over and over.
"He really didn't have a great game plan," said CMPD Detective Tori Roddey.
His game plan was to find anything he could to try to conquer the glass.
"He picks up possibly some concrete, a rock of some kind," the detective said.
After several throws, one finally does the trick. He uses his legs to kick out the rest, then throws his bag and the flat rock in while slipping through. Once in, he goes straight to the counter with the e-cigarettes.
It's possible he had cased the store before the break-in.
"I would think so, because you can see he went directly to the display case, knew exactly where he was going," Roddey said.
Even though the alarm had sounded, he filled his bag and got out before police arrived.
The very next night, with plywood on the door he'd broken the night before, he's back with a better game plan.
"He came prepared this time, he has a crowbar," Roddey explained.
It takes him several minutes to break through despite triggering the burglar alarm.
"The dispatcher is on the phone with the alarm company letting them know they're watching him break into the business," the detective said.
This time, he doesn't want the smokes, he wants a computer and laptop and monitor.
"I'm imagining when he came in the first time he saw that stuff and said, 'hey, it's an easy mark to go back and try again,'" Roddey said.
He stole several hundred dollars worth of e-cigarettes and several hundred in computer equipment.
Police describe him in his late 20s or early 30s, with facial hair. But, he was so heavily-dressed it's hard to tell about his body.
Know anyone selling e-cigs? Call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 and let's help police make his free time go up in smoke.