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ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Early Wednesday morning, two masked men used a stolen car to knock down the front doors of two stores, stealing cigarettes and money.
A Dougherty County Police Officer interrupted the second burglary. That led to a short chase, but the burglars got away.
Workers at those stores say crime is really hurting them. Both stores have had employees quit because they are afraid, and one manager says the owners are considering closing the store because of the crime problem.
About 2:30 Wednesday morning a car rams the doors of the Quick Buys on Sylvester Road and knocks them open. Two masked men with hoods, heavy jackets and gloves rush in.
They grab a plastic garbage can and load up hundreds of dollars of menthol cigarettes and cigars. They run back out, one man runs back in, grabs some more, and then speeds away. "Lot of crime in Albany," said Store Manager Sudah Patel.
About 3:40AM, the same car crashes through the front doors of the Express Lane on Newton Road. The same two men rush in, grabbing a trash can, and start loading it with cigarettes. But Dougherty County Police Officer David Zigan was watching the store following the other smash and grab, and pulls up behind their car.
The thieves jump back in the car, and actually ram the Police Car while roaring away. The Officer chased the burglars about a mile and a half down Lily Pond Road, before they bailed out of the car, and got away in the dark. All their stolen loot was still in the car.
"It's scary," said Express Lane Supervisor Jackie Davis. "We're wondering if we really should be in this location or not."
This is the third time the Express Lane has been burglarized in three months, and owners are trying to decide if crime in Dougherty County makes it too dangerous to stay open. The employees are sure, and are quitting.
"We've had three quit already and I'm afraid we are going to lose another one today," Davis said.
One of Patel's employees also had enough. "She was worried too. She found another job. She quit."
The car used in the store burglaries was a 1986 Oldsmobile 98, stolen from Bobby Patrick. The damage to the car was minor and it was returned to Patrick.
It will cost both of the stores at least three thousand dollars to replace the front doors, and now they wonder what more they can do to prevent another smash in burglary.
Investigators are trying to determine if these break-ins are related to smash and grabs a week and a half ago at the Hav Mor on West Gordon and the Fast Lane on Sylvester Road. Store owners say they are worried the thieves might get bolder, and come in when the employees are there.
There is a reward for information about these smash and grab crooks. If you recognize them, call the Dougherty County Police at 229-430-6600 or CRIMESTOPPERS at 229-436-TIPS.
Police also remind you if you buy cigarettes on the street. They're probably stolen and you could be charged with theft by receiving.