Crime Stoppers: Man steals 57 cartons of cigarettes from gas station

Crime Stoppers: Thief uses distraction to target business

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Stealing cigarettes sounds like petty crime, but stealing 57 cartons of smokes worth more than $3,400 without a gun - that has CMPD's attention.

From surveillance at a gas station on Sugar Creek at Harris Boulevard, a man wearing a red number 17 jersey holds the door for someone on surveillance, then goes to the clerk and starts chatting with her.

His job is to keep the clerk distracted.

"The first guy comes in, asking the clerk all types of rambling questions," said CMPD Detective Brandon Miller.  "While she's distracted, that's when the other guy makes his move."

With the distraction working perfectly, a man in a blue shirt and white cap sneaks behind the clerk into the office.

He pokes around and pulls out a long, slim tool, trying to force the door open to the storage.  But he hears something and has to check on his accomplice.

"It took him a few minutes, he wanted to make sure his friend was actually doing a good job distracting this lady from coming back there," Miller said.

The next time we see him, his pry tool is able to jimmy the door open.

Inside the storage closet, he grabs a black plastic trash bag and starts judiciously filling it with cigarette cartons. But not just any cigarettes.

"This guy knew exactly what he wanted to get-- he goes straight for the Newports and the Marlboros," Miller said. "He stole right at 57 cartons of cigarettes.  57 cartons of cigarettes valued right at $3,400."

On his way out, he sets his 57 cartons of smokes down at the front door.  A clerk then confronts him.

"That's when the clerk says something to him, but he says this is my bag and goes straight out of the store."

He and the other man who acted as a distraction both got into a car driven by a light skinned or Hispanic woman.

They drove away in a white, 4-door-- possibly a Toyota Corolla.

If you know these people, or, know something about this theft, call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.  You can earn a reward and make their criminal efforts go up in cigarette smoke.

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