Thieves steal store safe

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
A rash of store break-ins took a new twist over the weekend.
Instead of carrying off beer and cigarettes, the thieves carried off a safe the size of a small refrigerator from Enochville Food Center.
It’s the third store in the Atwell-Enochville area to be targeted in the last couple of weeks. Two of those stores, Mault Brothers Texaco and Atwell One Stop, have been hit twice in that time.
The cost is mounting for store owners, both in loss of merchandise and in repairing and replacing doors and glass.
Jane Culp, manager of Enochville Food Mart at 915 N. Enochville Ave., came to work Saturday morning and found the latch broken off the back door and a handtruck sitting outside.
Culp checked the store and found nothing missing except the safe from her office.
“They didn’t go in the front part of the store,” Culp said. “Somebody had to know (about the safe).”
Culp said it’s the first time the store, located beside Enochville Elementary School, has been broken into in the more than three years she has been manager.
Culp had one good thing to say about the thief: “They closed the back door. Maybe they were trying to save on my air conditioning bill.”
A short distance away, Butch Rumple continued counting his losses.
Rumple, who owns Atwell One Stop, has trouble keeping up with the dates and details.
According to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, someone broke into the store at 5945 N.C. 152 between 8 p.m. Thursday and 5:15 a.m. Friday.
“They broke the door, took 10 cartons of cigarettes … about $450 worth,” Rumple said. It cost him about $125 to repair the door.
Just a week earlier, a thief or thieves had carried off cigarettes.
“They kicked the front door in like they usually do,” Rumple said.
Insurance doesn’t cover the loss. Rumple is looking at options, but thus far hasn’t come up with an answer.
He’s mystified that people can get break in the front door without getting caught. The store is at the intersection of Deal Road and N.C. 152 and traffic is constant by its location.
Earlier this year, thieves took almost $3,000 worth of tobacco products and beer after kicking in the front door. And a few weeks before that, they took $1,500 worth of tobacco products.
Rumple said he was glad to read in the Mooresville newspaper that the Iredell County Sheriff’s Department had arrested and solved those break-ins.
He hasn’t heard anything official from either the Iredell or Rowan sheriff’s offices.
According to the Iredell Sheriff’s Department, three suspects have been charged in the Atwell One Stop break-in and three residential break-ins in the Mooresville area: Justin Scott Morgan, of Winged Elm Lane, Mooresville; and Aaron Logan Honeycutt and Joseph Scott Fielding, both of Charlotte Highway, Mooresville.
According to Capt. Mike Valentine of the Iredell Sheriff’s Office, the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call 704-878-3180.
Thieves have had a tougher time satisfying their nicotene cravings at Mault Brothers Texaco on N.C. 152 near the intersection with N.C. 153, but they are causing damage to the business.
“They’re breaking in at night, knocking the windows out,” Bobby Mault said Monday.
His business has been hit twice in the last three weeks.
The first time, the person knocked out a window and got a few cigarettes.
Mault, who has operated the store for 56 years, learned years ago not to leave cigarettes in the store. That night, he slipped up and left a few in easy view.
A week or so later, someone again broke in through a window in the back door.
They didn’t get anything that time, but left a trail of blood through the business.
Damage to the windows and door totaled around $1,500.
Since opening the business in 1954, Mault said he’s had about 30 break-ins.
Back then, gas was 12 cents a gallon, cigarettes were 10 cents a pack and soft drinks were 5 cents.
“A carton of cigarettes was 75 cents back then. Now a carton is $40,” Mault said. “There’s quite a bit of difference … and in the attitude of people and everything else.”
Anyone with information about the break-ins is asked to call the Rowan Sheriff’s Office at 704-216-8700.