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Police looking for cigarette thieves after 2 break-ins

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Customers may not notice a subtle change to a downtown Shell station, but the owner added metal bars to the doors of the store after a thief found a way inside.

"You realize how much it cost them to do that, get the glass and weld the bars on the door. It probably cost more than the cigarettes they sold," Lavox Anthony said.

The owner of the Shell station felt like he had no choice after someone broke through one of his doors Wednesday morning.

Cameras show once inside, the burglar went straight for the counter, grabbing cartons of cigarettes. Outside you can see a waiting SUV with the back passenger-side door still open.

Two days earlier, a cigarette stealer shattered the front door at a Walgreens at Macon and Whitten in northeast Memphis. That person got away with about 40 cartons of cigarettes.

Police aren't saying if they think the two burglaries might be connected.

"It's a high commodity. You can sell them easy," Anthony said.

Stilll, Anthony says whoever broke into the Shell station was brazen, since it is just feet away from a police precinct.

"People are getting more desperate. The more desperate they are, the more chances they take."

They say, unfortunately, money spent to repair and secure stores like this will be passed on to customers.

Police say the burglar left the Shell station in what appears to be a late-1990s silver or white Toyota 4Runner. If you can help police, call Crime Stoppers at 528-CASH.