LEE CO., GA (WALB) - A gas station has serious damage to fix after burglars broke in around 4:30 Tuesday morning. The owner estimates around $20,000 in damage.
The Citgo on US 82 was closed most of the day but reopened Tuesday afternoon. The owner is extremely frustrated.
The damage caused far outweighs the amount the 4 burglars got off with. A massive hole in the back is just the beginning of the damage.
The thieves broke through the cooler and walked to the security system. They disabled that system, kicked in a door, and broke open the safe.
"They did know what they were doing. They were familiar with the store," said store owner Steve Whatley.
They also attempted to get into the ATM. Whatley believes an employee arriving for her shift scared them off. They grabbed the security DVD but dropped it on their way out.
"We were able to recreate the video. That's how we were able to determine it was four individuals," said Whatley.
A pile of trash outside may be the worst part. It's all unopened chips and other goods that had to be thrown away.
Health inspectors said the grinder used to get into the safe created so much dust it contaminated everything in soft packages.
"That portion is extremely frustrating," said Whatley.
All total, the damage is close to $20,000. Vendors restocked the shelves and brick masons fixed the hole. Deputies are working hard, but Whatley is asking for the public's help.
"It would certainly help if the public did see anything, anything that seemed suspicious, out of place, anything, if they would let us know or the Lee County Sheriff's Department," said Whatley.
Whatley planned to add more security and improve the system in place.
"Just a very difficult situation that we're dealing with and we're going to do everything we can to prevent it from happening again," said Whatley.
Sheriff Reggie Rachals said they don't know if the men got into a car or ran through the woods. They're working to get surveillance video of the break-in.