Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cigarettes stolen from local store

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (Sep 22, 2005): The night after Maine’s cigarette tax increase took effect, a Scarborough business felt the effects.

Thieves bashed in the glass door of Eight Corners Pizza at 2:02 a.m. Tuesday morning and in about 45 seconds made off with $750 to $800 worth of cigarettes, according to owner Peter Walsh Jr.

Two minutes after the store’s alarm went off, Scarborough police Officer Jeff Greenleaf arrived, and found the thieves already gone.

The thieves had driven right up to the door, smashed it in with “a bowling-ball-sized rock,” and one person jumped onto and then over the counter to get to the cigarette rack, Walsh said.

He guessed the person had a large bag and just shoveled packs of cigarettes into the bag, because there were cigarette packs on the floor that had been stepped on.

Walsh estimated that 150 to 200 packs were taken, with a retail value – including the new $2 tax, double the old tax – of between $750 and $800. He blamed the tax increase for the theft, saying he pays about $50 a carton, but a thief could sell a stolen carton “for 20 bucks and people will but it.”

He said police estimated the thief was in the store for 30 to 45 seconds, while a getaway driver waited outside. Scarborough and South Portland police were alerted immediately, but did not spot a car.

Walsh said the thief did not touch the lottery tickets or alcoholic beverages right next to the counter, and said there is no cash ever kept in the store after closing.

The thieves did $1,500 in damage to the store, Walsh said. He is considering installing a steel gate across his door, but thinks that’s a little much for Scarborough. “I don’t want to see it, do you?” he asked.

It is the second time thieves have hit the store. In 2002, people who broke in and stole cigarettes were caught red-handed that night, he said.

Police got various pieces of evidence from the store after Tuesday’s break-in, Walsh said. “We’re going to catch them.”