Cigarette Bandits Move Operation Into Big City

CLEVELAND – Thieves who have been conducting smash-and-grab robberies in Cleveland suburbs for some time have apparently moved their operation to the big city, and they seem to have one single target -- cigarettes, 19/43 News' Paul Orlousky reported.

Police said that the robbers hit violently and are gone in a flash, and that they target cigarettes because they are expensive, light and easy to stuff into a garbage can or trash bag.

Once the thieves get the cigarettes, they haul them onto the streets and sell them for a hefty profit.

Authorities said that they are looking for the smash-and-grab bandits who hit a Shell station on Rocky River Dr. and made off with more than $4,000 in smokes.

"When we got here for work, we saw a rock inside the door and glass shattered all over," station employee John Woodworth said.

Much like other thefts in recent months, only cigarettes were taken. Beer, food and even lottery tickets were left inside the store, telling police that it's likely the thieves knew exactly what they wanted and had some place to fence the cigarettes quickly.

Police said that many of the stolen cigarettes wind up being sold to children who can't buy them legally from a store.