News 12 at 11 o'clock, June 11, 2007
AUGUSTA, GA-- South Augusta burglars caught on tape and now Richmond County investigators need your help to catch them.
The video is from a break in from the Citi Trends department store at Windsor Spring Road and Tobacco Road.
News 12 learned other burglaries in the area may be connected after four break-ins were reported in the same shopping center this week, and at least two more up the road recently.
Now, store owners say they've had enough.
"It makes me angry, I'm real mad. When i saw the glass broken, it devastated me." says Citi Trends manager Samantha Brown as she watches the surveillance footage from her store, searching for clues.
Thieves broke into her store this week not once, but twice. Well almost twice, in the footage from the first night you see the group break the glass, turn the lock and make a mad dash for the clothing. In all, there are four of them taking trips and loading clothes into a shopping cart and they're in and out in under a minute.
The next night they're back for more. One man pounds the new plexi glass with a hammer for more than twenty minutes. A second person who investigators believe to be a female tries to help by kicking the door.
"It looked like an anger or revenge thing because they couldn't get back in the store because I had put in plexi glass and they didn't know that. But instead of just knocking out one window, they knocked out three." says Brown.
Eventually, one burglar pulls back the plastic and tries to fit through the bars and so does the other subject. They get out just before deputies pull up, which is why investigators are sure they had a lookout.
And believe it or not, the same day after the failed second break in, two teenage boys shoplift in the middle of the day. Investigators say they may be part of the same group of thieves.
"I'm real mad because we don't discriminate about who we service and we don't mind anyone coming up in here but it's like the younger ones who are coming in a just taking stuff. It's like they got nothing else better to do." adds Brown.
Citi Trends isn't the only store that's been targeted in the area in recent weeks. In fact, Richmond County says there has been a string of burglaries and now investigators want to know if these crimes are connected.
This past weekend, two break ins at the same shopping center as Citi Trends. Thieves stole games at the Movie Gallery, and they stole clothing from Windsor Cleaners. In the last few weeks, two other urban clothing stores have also been repeatedly targeted.
Lt. Tony Walden with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office is investigating the break ins. "Well I doubt very seriously it's an issue of need, it's an issue of want and whether or not they want to go pay for it or go steal it, whichever is easiest for them."
"Get a job! Get a job! It's just that simple. This is not a game. This is real life and if I catch you, you will go to jail." says Brown.
Brown says the burglars have cost her store more than ten thousand dollars in lost merchandise sales and damages. They're asking anyone with information to call the sheriff's office at 706-821-1080.