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Men steal $2,500 in cigarettes

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Sheriff's Office is looking for three suspects in connection with the theft of nearly $2,500 worth of cigarettes from a convenience store.

According to NCSO Public Information Officer Deputy Courtney Morrison, the manager of Flash Foods gas station at 4175 Salem Road, notified the NCSO on Aug. 10 that when she was doing inventory two days earlier, she discovered that there were 64 cartons of cigarettes missing. She began going back through her security tapes and found video evidence that at 1:41 a.m. on July 29, a large number of cigarettes were taken from the store.

Morrison said the tape revealed that three black men came into the store and two jumped across the cashier's counter and ran into an office behind the counter. From the office, they took two cases of cigarettes, each containing 30 cartons.

The two men handed the cartons off to another male who was standing in front of the counter and they all fled the store and got into a vehicle and left on Salem Road.

Morrison said the manager said she questioned the cashier who was on duty at the time who told her that about a minute prior to the incident being captured on video, a black male had approached her and told her that he "accidentally" used the ladies room and the toilet had malfunctioned. She said the man who told her that then walked outside and stood with two other men.

The cashier said she went to see about the toilet and it took her a few minutes to take care of it. When she returned, the three males were gone and she had no idea anything had happened.

In other crime news, over the weekend there were six separate incidents of entering autos that occurred within a 2-mile radius of each other in western Newton County, Morrison said.

Three incidents occurred in Saddlebrook subdivision and three happened at The Silos.

Morrison said the NCSO has established concentrated patrols and an Entering Auto Task Force comprised of deputies who review criminal activity reports looking for areas where entering auto complaints have been made.

"We've stepped up patrols in those areas and this will be ongoing. It has proven to be highly effective and we've already made several arrests just since this task force was created," Morrison said, adding that residents should not hesitate to call 911 if they hear or see anything suspicious.

Also, she reminded everyone to lock their car doors and to keep valuables out of sight, as well as evidence that valuables are normally in the vehicle such as holders for GPS devices and chargers for cell phones.