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Sheriff: Cigarettes more appealing target in convenience store thefts

Philip Morris-Altria
Posted at 4:41 AM, Aug 02, 2022

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — The sheriff of Charlotte County says he is seeing a rise in the number of convenience store thefts where the item of choice is cigarettes.

Bill Prummell said in a Facebook post on Monday that cigarettes are being stolen by the carton, and in growing numbers — a trend he says is happening locally and across the state.

Miami Police investigated a string of robberies in May in which suspects jumped behind counters at multiple stores, sweeping arms across shelves of smokes, taking away as many packs and cartons as they could. At least one person was arrested in connection with those thefts.

Last summer in Polk County, two suspects were responsible for a reported $2,000 in stolen cigarettes at a single store.

Prummell is advising area businesses to take precautions including upgrading security measures to help curtail more thefts.

  • A well-lit parking lot
  • Height markers at entrances to aid in suspect identification
  • Unobstructed view of sales area from inside and outside the building
  • Security cameras capable of obtaining clear images of suspects
  • Silent alartms
  • Notices at entrances that cash registers contain $50 or less
  • Staffing at least two employees on premises at all times.

The sheriff's social media post did not divulge any estimates of stolen merchandise in Charlotte County.