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Deputies look for suspects in string of burglaries

Investigators believe 8 separate break-ins related

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PALM COAST, Fla. – Deputies are looking for four to five suspects in a string of burglaries, and they don't believe they're from the area.

Investigators said the suspects smashed their way into eight different businesses early Monday morning at two strip malls. Now detectives believe the burglaries are connected.

At about 5 a.m., the burglars used a crowbar to smash the front windows at three businesses at Flagler Plaza Shopping center in Palm Coast -- a Subway, nail salon and a liquor store.

Deputies said once the crooks got inside the stores, they went straight to the cash register and the stores' safes.

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When deputies arrived, the thieves were gone, but they weren't far.

Eight miles down the road, investigators said the thieves hit five stores at Utility Commerce Park.

Deborah Machin's craft store was burglarized. She remembers the early morning call from police.

When asked what her first reaction was, she said, "Extreme anxiety."
Right next to Machin's store, Kris Wiltfong's pet store, Palm Coast Pet Spa, was also hit.

"Most people think that we are getting a new door, which is pretty funny, but we are, it's just not our decision," said Wiltfong.

An unexpected expense each store is experiencing.

"It'll probably take me 20 minutes a door," said LaRue Overton from Wedoo Glass.

Flagler County deputies said the burglars didn't get away with a lot of cash. They think the thieves are from out of town and targeted the businesses because they're close to Interstate 95.

"We refer to them as gypsy burglars," said Lt. Steve Cole of Flagler County Sheriff's Office. "They go from area to area and they're very transient. They pick out a location, target it, hit it, then move on to the next location.

Police have been going door to door to warn other area businesses. Police in surrounding counties have also been alerted.

Anyone with any information that can help investigators, call Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS.