Thousands of cigarettes stolen in shop raids

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Two shops were closed for business yesterday after thieves broke into them and stole thousands of pounds worth of cigarettes.

News Plus in Station Road, Kettering, and the One Stop shop in The Green, Mawsley, were both targeted by three masked raiders between 10pm on Wednesday and 12.30am yesterday.

At both stores the thieves smashed through the glass front doors and took only cigarettes.

The thefts lasted just minutes at each shop.

A police spokesman could not confirm the two thefts were linked, but said it was a possibility.

News Plus owner Niari Patel was called to his shop by police at 12.25am. He said the metal shutters to the shop had been broken and a door window pane smashed.

Inside he found all the cigarettes behind the counter had been taken.

He said: “I think about £7,000 or £8,000 worth of cigarettes have been taken. They’ve obviously been targeted because they are easy to flog off for cash.

“I’d ask them, was it really worth it?”

Mr Patel has CCTV footage of the car pulling up outside the shop and the men taking three bags of the taken goods into the vehicle.

But he says a switched-off street light outside the shop has meant it is impossible to pick up the number plates on the images.

The light was one of hundreds turned off by the county council as part of budget cuts last year.

A council spokesman said: “The lights haven’t been turned off on an ad-hoc basis.

“We’ve worked hard to establish a rationale and have liaised closely with the police to help make our decisions.”

Similarly, three masked men smashed the front door window pane of One Stop in Mawsley.

Inside, smoke was released when the alarm system was triggered but the thieves still managed to get away with most of the cigarettes behind the till.

Shift manager Sarah Cobley said: “The frightening thing is that these people must have come into the shop prior to the theft.

“We now want to get the shop open as quickly as possible for the village.”

Anyone with information should call police on 101.