RICHMOND — Thousands of dollars’ worth of cigarettes were stolen recently from a Main Street convenience store, police said Thursday.

Police Chief Scott MacMaster said about 300 cartons of cigarettes were taken during the July 13 break-in at Gary’s Quick Stop. MacMaster said the value of the stolen cigarettes topped $10,000.

Cigarettes typically sell for about $50 per carton, making the retail value of the stolen cartons more than $15,000.

“They wiped out every cigarette that they had,” MacMaster said. “That seems to be the only thing they grabbed.”

The break-in occurred between 11 p.m. July 12 and 6 a.m. the next day, police said. The burglars cut the store’s phone and cable lines and broke into the store through a back door, MacMaster said.

“We don’t think they were there for too long,” he said, “maybe 10 or 15 minutes.”

Store owner Gary Emmons, who also owns Exit 43 Quik Stop on Main Street, said both of his stores are equipped with alarms and surveillance equipment. He said the stolen cigarettes represent about a week’s worth of sales.

Emmons said his store was limited to cash transactions for about a half-day as the communication lines were restored.

This is the first time Gary’s Quick Stop has been burglarized, but someone broke into the Exit 43 Quik Stop about 13 months ago and caused significant damage before leaving without taking anything. The store also was burglarized in April.

“You get your inventory the next day and you call your insurance company,” Emmons said. “I don’t know what else you can do but cross your fingers and hope it doesn’t happen again.”

MacMaster theorized that the stolen cigarettes will be sold or traded for “whatever they can get.”

Burglars have targeted cigarettes in several recent cases. In February, for instance, police investigated a burglary in Bingham, during which 92 cartons of cigarettes were stolen. A Canaan man has been charged in that theft.

In 1997, burglars twice broke into Goodwill Industries in Augusta and stole more than 100 cartons of cigarettes. MacMaster also recalled a burglary at Pine State Trading Co. in the late 1990s during which several hundred cartons of cigarettes were stolen. MacMaster came upon the burglars parked at a local auto dealership.

“The car was right full,” MacMaster said.

Cigarettes are almost always taken whenever a store is burglarized, MacMaster said. Typically, however, the thieves also grab other items, such as alcohol, lottery tickets and money.

“It’s more, ‘Let’s grab what we can grab,'” MacMaster said. “We typically don’t have a commercial burglary where they go in and target cigarettes.”

MacMaster asked anyone with information about the burglary to call Richmond police at 737-8518.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

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