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Stolen car used to 'ram raid' tobacco store

COVINGTON - A trio of thieves apparently stole a 1997 Honda from a grocery store parking lot in order to use the vehicle to ram the front of a tobacco store and make off with about 25 cartons of cigarettes, according to the Newton County Sheriff's Office.

The 1997 black Honda went missing from the parking lot of the Kroger store on Ga. Highway 20 about 5 a.m. Monday. Then, sometime between 5 and 5:30 that morning, the car was driven a short distance to the Scottish Tobacco Company at 5340 Ga. 20 and used to crash through the front store windows and metal grate.

Video surveillance shows three black men wearing dark clothing inside the vehicle, said NCSO spokeswoman Investigator Sharron Stewart.

An NCSO incident report states that the driver of the vehicle is shown on the tape backing the Honda out of the store and his two accomplices making their way inside and stealing the cartons of cigarettes - most of them Newports, Salems and Marlboros.

It is estimated the damage to the front of the store was approximately $2,500, but an exact value of the cigarettes has not been established.

The NCSO asks that anyone with information on the incident call 678-625-1403. Tips can be given to the NCSO anonymously at 678-625-5007 or through its Web site at www.newtonsheriffga.org and clicking on "anonymous tip line." Those who want a response from NCSO personnel should leave contact information.

In other news, the Covington Police Department is looking for a red, 500-gallon tanker truck that reportedly pulled into the rear of Midas Muffler at 9131 U.S. Highway 278 and stole 200 gallons of oil.

The incident occurred about 3 a.m. Thursday and was captured on video by the surveillance system at the nearby Citgo gas station.

"We're working on enhancing the video and are still investigating this case," said CPD Lt. Wendell Wagstaff.

Also, the CPD is investigating the theft of nine propane tanks filled with fuel that were stolen from Clarion Metals sometime between May 16 and 19. The tanks were kept in a locked metal cage and have the name of Georgia Gas on them.

The CPD asks that anyone with information on either of these cases call 770-786-7605. Tips can be given to the CPD anonymously by visiting its Web site at www.covingtonpolice.com and clicking on "contact us" and then "secret witness."