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Pair sought in $10,000 cigarette theft from Murphy USA gas station

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BISCOE, NC -

The Biscoe Police Department in Montgomery County is requesting  the identification of suspects involved in various break-ins and larcenies from Murphy USA Gas Stations.

There have been numerous break-ins with the same pattern, method and items taken throughout North Carolina. Authorities believe at least 20 break-ins in Eastern NC are linked.

The most recent happened on Wednesday  at 2:55 am; a male (race unknown) and a black female broke into the Muprhy USA in Biscoe, NC and stole 200 cartons of cigarettes and 100 packs of White Owl Cigars valued at almost $10,000.

 The suspects were driving a Chevrolet Trailblazer, black in color, with a sun roof, luggage rack, and gold trim around the wheel wells.  The vehicle as a dent in the left rear corner of the bumper just under the tail light.

If you have information, please contact Sgt. Mike Barrington of the Biscoe Police Department at 910-220-0883.

Authorities also say there is someone in Eastern North Carolina stealing cigarettes at a rapid rate,  which recently lead the Nash County Sheriff's Office to ask for help in finding the culprit.

This has now happened 22 times, with the incidents stretching across Nash, Wilson, Franklin, Johnston and even Pitt counties. Police think a recent robbery in Farmville was connected.

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Officials aren't sure if the robberies in Eastern NC are the work of just one person. In the video, the person appears to be a white male, but Lt. Todd Wells of the Nash County Sheriff's Office said officials aren't sure because the thief is wearing a ski mask, gloves and coat, and only part of the neck is visible.

But the patterns are similar, where a thief grabs a large amount of cigarettes and then flees. Wells said each time, the robber goes in the front door after the store is closed and snatches a large amount of cartons of cigarettes. Most of the time, the robber takes between 20 and 60 cartons, but one time snatched 106 cartons.

The robberies have been happening since April. Wells said the bandit has hit about 10 times in Nash County, and police aren't sure if the thief is re-selling the cigarettes.

In all cases, the bandit only steals cigarettes.

Wells has been with Nash County's Sheriff's Office for 19 years and said the number of times these break-ins are taking place, are happening at an alarming rate.

"This is just coming back and it seems with a vengeance," Wells said. 

Shequeta Freeman knows about the cigarette bandit all too well. She's a cashier at Murphy's Express in Nashville and said the bandit robbed them twice while the store was closed.

"Last time they tried to get in, and threw a rock."

That's when Freeman said the store added more security and changed the locks.

"I'm trying to get out of here before the lights cut off that way, so I won't be in the middle of anything," said Freeman.

Investigators said the bandit only steals cigarette cartons and nothing else because of the huge return.

"Say they were to theoretically break in and steal 50 cartons from every store. You say, 50 times 21 times 150," said Wells.

That's theoretically $157,500 in profit, if you sell them in the north where cigarettes are much more expensive. That's why investigators said the bandits keep coming back.

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