Thursday, August 5, 2010

Still more smash n' grabs -- Albany, GA

Smash-and-grab burglars damaged two more Albany businesses early this morning. Store owners say they are frightened and frustrated by repeated break-ins and thefts, that cost them big money.

Thieves smashed out windows at an East Albany billing center and a South Albany convenience store and ransacked both businesses this morning, in what business owners say is an almost everyday crime event.

And it seems no matter how well they fortify their stores, the thieves keep coming back.

Surveillance video from the Albany Deli and Food Mart at South Westover and Oakridge shows a man battering down the front window with a hammer, and heads straight for the Newport cigarettes.

"Yea, it's a mess," Store owner Jolly Singh said. "I got to clean up everything. All that. And I hate to see people doing that."

Across town on Cordele Road, about an hour earlier, a thief threw a cinder block through the double front doors at the Artesian Billing and Computers. He says this crime is out of control.

"It is literally a war zone," CEO Errol Markland said.

Markland put up the two layers of store front, surveillance cameras, alarm systems to discourage these smash and grabs, but the thieves still keep smashing in. Nothing was taken, but it will cost 800 dollars to repair the doors. Markland says the thieves are desperate.

"A lot of people out of work, have to feed their family. Get their children back to school so, there is a need for money, and the only way they can do it without a job is to steal," Markland said.

Markland says despite all his security measures, he keeps his gun close at hand. "My employees are worried. They're scared. They worry about their safety."

The Food Mart bandit stole several cartons of cigarettes, but did hundreds of dollars of damage to the store. Now Singh says he will put iron bars across the front of his business, to try to stop the wave of smash and grab thefts.

Both these businesses have been broken into before. District Attorney Greg Edwards says these smash and grab thieves need to remember, if caught they could spend 25 years in prison, and that is a high price for a few packs of cigarettes.

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