CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Thieves leave behind shattered glass and a mangled front door at the entrance of Queen City Food Mart on Independence Boulevard.

A Charlotte Police report says the thieves ran a car through the front of the building and took off with 15 cartons of cigarettes, 20 cigars and left $6,000 in damage in the overnight hours Wednesday. This crime happens just a week removed from two other smash and grabs for cigarettes in Lincoln County.

"In there for a minute or so and back out with $3,000 worth of cigarettes," said Lt. Tim Johnson.

Johnson says at least three criminals hit two tobacco stores in Denver along Highway 16 in a matter of 30 minutes. Johnson says he has information the criminals are moving cigarettes up north to get more money out of them.

"They'll double the price for what they cost here. So they cost $45 they'll cost $90 there," said Johnson.

Lt. Johnson says detectives are focusing much of their efforts on figuring out the identity of the criminals in the cases.

"Finger prints, DNA, facial recognition, we work on vehicle there's all different kind of things we try to get to identify who they are," said Johnson.

Johnson says he's not surprised by criminals using anything and everything to break in.

"It comes in spurts over the years. We have them where they back their car up to the door and hooked the chain and pulled the doors off," said Johnson.

Johnson says investigators are still gathering information on the two recent crimes. He says time is key on catching the criminal.

"It could go to the flea market or it could go to the local drug dealer to go for drugs until you can find it and you can catch it quick and catch them when you can say that's the cigarettes from this store then you can go," said Johnson.

CMPD says it's too early to tell whether Wednesday night's smash-and-grab is connected to moving cigarettes to the north.

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