East Albany businesses, non-profit burglarized - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

East Albany businesses, non-profit burglarized

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Albany had a rash of burglaries overnight, and we have the surveillance video of the crooks in action.

Coke and bumble gum machines were taken and police believe the same people are responsible for all four break-ins. Owners of those businesses say the break-ins are strikingly similar to break-ins they had three years ago.

One of the businesses called him the "gumball bandit." He only stole about $70 total, but he did thousands of dollars in damages to the buildings and vending machines.

Just before 2:00 AM the masked bandit broke into Southway Cranes on Don Cutler Drive. He pulled the sheet metal walls of the building apart, and squeezed inside. He spent 20 minutes inside the business, but all he stole was the money from the coke machine. Exactly like a break in there three years ago.

"The similarities are so striking," said Southway Crane President James Simons. "It would be a heck of a coincidence if it wasn't the same guy."

Just before midnight someone pulled away the metal siding at Darsey Oil on East Oglethorpe in the same way, and broke a hole through the inside wall. The alarm sounded, and he ran away empty handed. 

"Hood, mask, gloves. Came in the same way. Did the same thing over there that he did three years ago. The same thing here three years ago," said Darsey Oil owner Chuck Darsey.

Workers at the Boys and Girl's Club and Girl's Inc. East Albany Center on Inverness Drive last night found two vending machines and two bubblegum machines broken into. About $60 was missing.

The crook broke in through the air conditioner, doing thousands of dollars in damage to the building and the vending machines. At Flint Equipment Company on Blaylock Street, employees this morning discovered two vending machines broken into. The crook climbed through that fan 25 or 30 feet off the ground, jumping to get inside.

"All for the sake of maybe ten bucks. Lot of risk in my book," Darsey said.

"If he put the same amount of effort into an honest way he could make a pretty good living,"  Simons said.

When the alarm goes off at Southway Crane, watch as the bubblegum bandit makes his escape. Notice he takes the time to close the door before he sprints away.

Both Darsey Oil and Southway Crane are preparing to have the metal walls of their building secured so he could not pull that metal away again.

No one was arrested for those break ins three years ago. Albany Police are investigating these break ins, and are still trying to determine if they are the work of the same crook. The business owners say it is just too remarkable a coincidence to not be.

 Business owner's Darsey and Simons are putting up a cash reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the bubblegum bandit.

If you have any information, call the Albany Police at 229-431-3288, or you can call CRIMESTOPPERS at 229-436-TIPS.

Surveillance video Source: Southway Cranes

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