Lincoln County authorities say they are investigating break-ins at two tobacco stores that happened only 30 minutes apart.
The thefts were reported early Tuesday at stores along N.C. 16 in the Denver area, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.
The first case was reported about 12:30 a.m. at Tobacco and Beer Outlet, in the 3500 block of N.C. 16 North. Deputies responded to an alarm and found the front-door glass had been broken.
The store’s owner checked surveillance video, investigators said, and saw two people entering the store and placing items in boxes. Both subjects were wearing masks and blue jeans. One person had a short-sleeve shirt and the other a long-sleeve shirt.
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Then shortly before 1 p.m., deputies on routine patrol spotted a break-in at Denver Smokes, in the 100 block of N.C. 16 South. Store surveillance showed a rock was thrown through the door at 12:19 a.m., and a dark-colored SUV pulled up to the front of the store shortly afterward.
Authorities said the surveillance video showed two people getting out of the vehicle, gathering items in boxes, and then leaving within three minutes.
Investigators said it appears as if the thieves targeted only cigarettes.