Man in SUV nicks nicotine at Windmaster

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

July 8, 2006

Windmaster Market is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a cigarette thief.

Hood River County Sheriff Deputy Matt English believes the driver of a white pickup might be able to shed more light on the case.

He said that individual passed the dark-colored SUV belonging to the suspect on June 28. The full-size truck was traveling in the eastbound lane of Barrett Drive shortly after 5 a.m.

A surveillance video showed the pickup rolling up to the stop sign at the Windmaster intersection. Moments later, the suspect pulled his vehicle out of the parking lot into the westbound lane.

“We think the individual in the pickup might be able to provide us with some valuable information,” said English.

He said the modus operandi of the recent burglary is the same as cigarette heists from Cascade Locks businesses during the past year.

The male thief was wearing dark clothing that makes him difficult to view on the surveillance tape. He gained entry onto the premises by using a large rock to break out the glass in the front door. Once inside, he managed to stuff about $1,150 of cigarettes into a bag within only a few moments.

The deputy said the cost for Windmaster to repair the shattered glass was estimated at $800. Manager Russ Gray decided to post the reward in hopes of stopping further criminal activity.

English is hopeful that, with commuter traffic heavy near Windmaster in the morning hours, someone will come forward with a new lead.

He said store employees arrived within three minutes of the burglar being inside the store. And the potential for an encounter with an uncertain outcome also concerned law enforcement officials.

“This man doesn’t seem to be concerned about surveillance or alarms. It is highly likely that he is linked to other unsolved cases,” said English.

Anyone noting suspicious activity around Windmaster on June 28 is asked to call the non-emergency dispatch line at 386-2711.

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