JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Thieves smashed into three liquor stores in Jacksonville over the past three weeks, and video evidence indicates the same robbers may be responsible for all of the burglaries.
The latest happened about 3 a.m. Thursday at ABC Fine Wines and Liquor on Roosevelt Boulevard.
Police say two similar burglaries occurred last month. The ABC store on Cesery Boulevard was hit about 3:30 a.m. On April 13 and the store on San Jose Boulevard was broken into at 4 a.m. On April 19. In both cases, the thieves smashed through the glass front doors, and loaded dozens of bottles of liquor into a shopping cart and took off.
"Please, Jacksonville citizens, please help with this," said Wyllie Hodges, executive director of First Coast Crime Stoppers. "Obviously, these people are running rampant. They have gotten away with three now. We need to put a stop to it."
Security video shows the moment the thieves tried to break into the store in April. Investigators said that the thieves used a cement block to get inside.
"What was your reaction when you saw the damage?" asked Channel 4's Tim Pulliam.
"That it was unnecessary to destroy such property to get inside and take our property, that it's an expense that we have to bear," said store owner Charles Creel.
Creel said the damage will cost him $1,400 to repair. After the three men broke into the store, they went after high end spirits behind the counter. Security video obtained by Channel 4 shows the masked men inside the store, loading up bottles of Circo, Grey Goose and Jack Daniels into shopping carts.
Police said they don't know what the men are doing with the liquor, but thousands of dollars' worth of alcohol is gone and that's something Creel said will impact his bottom line.
"The damage has been repaired. We've taken security measures like upgrading our security video systems," said Creel. "That's the hard cost, but the soft cost is the fear that it instills not only in our employees, but our community."
Wegayehu Gobena runs a convenience store across the street on Cesery Boulevard. He said that he is concerned and said recently thieves broke into one of his stores to steal cigarettes.
"They could do it to anybody, even houses and a lot of people get away with it, it's sad to say," said Gobena.
Creel hopes someone will come forward with information to catch three men involved in the break-ins.
"It would give me a sense of relief, not only that these folks are behind bars and not doing this sort of thing, but what it will send out there are those of us who are proactive in the community, that will not tolerate this sort of thing," said Creel.
ABC Liquors is offering a 5,000 reward for any information that could lead to an arrest on top of the standing $1,000 that Crime Stoppers offers for information leading to an arrest.
Anyone with information about the robberies or the robbers is asked to call 866-845-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous.
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