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EAST VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS

MOORPARK, THOUSAND OAKS : Ring Suspected in Thefts of Cigarettes

August 29, 1994|GREG RIPPEE

Nighttime thieves who slip in through the rooftops of liquor stores to help themselves to cartons of cigarettes have been victimizing shopkeepers from Moorpark to perhaps as far away as Glendale, authorities say.

In at least one of the thefts, lawmen have narrowed their focus to four men who were captured Aug. 19 on a store videotape as they appeared to be casing Moorpark Liquors at 312 W. Los Angeles Ave., said Sgt. Terry Hughes of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

The next day, employees discovered an estimated $7,800 worth of cigarettes was missing, along with some cash and some X-rated videos, Hughes said.

On the store videotape, the suspects could be heard "making reference to cigarettes," he said. "If you saw the tape, I think you'd see it's pretty obvious they were casing the place."

In another incident, thieves took an estimated $21,000 worth of cigarettes on Aug. 9 from the Spirit Shoppe at 339 Hampshire Road in Thousand Oaks, Hughes said.

He said another $22,000 worth of cigarettes was taken from the Liquor Chest in Agoura Hills, also on the night of Aug. 9.

Although he has yet to directly link the Ventura County thefts to any others, Hughes said it might just be a matter of time.

According to what shopkeepers have told him, similar burglaries have been reported at liquor stores in Encino, Granada Hills and Glendale, all since the beginning of August.

"All indications are that there are a multitude of victims in the greater Los Angeles area," Hughes said.

He added that he has shared information with police and sheriff's deputies in both Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

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