3 store robberies believed related

Published 5:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

A country convenience store was robbed early Tuesday and twoothers early Wednesday in crimes that may be related, an officialsaid.

Lawrence County Sheriff Joel Thames said 27 Grocery, ValleyQuick Stop and Sartinville Grocery, all on Highway 27 South, wererobbed. 27 Grocery and Valley Quick Stop are in Lawrence County,while Sartinville Grocery is in Walthall County.

Thames and Walthall County Sheriff Duane Dillon are cooperatingin their investigations, which both believe to be linked.

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“We’re looking in that direction, but it’s something we’ll haveto determine later,” he said.

The string of thefts began with an attempt to rob 27 GroceryTuesday, the sheriff said.

“A man stopped to get his paper around 5 a.m. and saw two menrun from the front of the store to the woods,” Thames said.

The man then got Wilmer Fuller, who lives nearby and is thefather of the store’s owner, and returned to the store. They foundthe lock had been cut off the front door.

The only missing items were some loose packs of cigarettes,cigarette lighters and possibly some other small items, Thamessaid.

Then, between 2 and 3 a.m. Wednesday, Thames said, thieves threwa five-foot-long steel rod through the glass front door and reachedin to unlock it.

Deputies were able to narrow the time of the robbery to aone-hour span because a deputy had checked the door at 2 a.m. andthe incident was reported around 3 a.m., Thames said.

The Sartinville store was robbed around the same time, Thamessaid.

Both stores reported cigarettes, beer, candy, microwaveablefoods and cigars were stolen.

A donation jar on the counter next to the register at ValleyQuick Stop was not touched. The jar was there to benefit a7-year-old girl with cancer and contained more than $40 in billsand coins.

Thames said he does not believe the robberies Tuesday andWednesday were related to an attempted robbery at Center Grocerylast week.

“There was never any entry in that robbery, and we don’t feellike they’re related at this time,” he said.

In response to the robberies, Thames said he and Dillon “havebeefed up patrols in the lower part of the county” and instructedofficers to be more aggressive in making traffic stops.

Investigators are continuing to work the robberies, he said, andhave developed some leads.

“We were able to come up with some prints on some of the items,but it will take awhile to determine how many belonged tocustomers,” he said.