DETECTIVES have warned shopkeepers to be “mindful of the amount of cigarettes” they leave in the store overnight following a series of heists by masked raiders.
An Aldbourne store is among those hit by the gang.
At 12.40am on Monday, January 5, offenders gained entry to Co-op in Oxford Street, Aldbourne. Once inside, they stole a large quantity of cigarettes and then left the scene at speed in a black vehicle, believed to be an Audi.
Since November 2014, there have been a number of separate but similar incidents involving a group of four or five men breaking into stores and stealing thousands of pounds worth of cigarettes.
The offenders, who are all believed to be white men, wear balaclavas or scarves covering their faces and dark gloves. The vehicles used by the group are all thought to be stolen.
Other targets believed to have been hit by the raiders include Woodborough Social Club in Pewsey, the Co-op in The Borough, Downton, Budgens in Hertford Road, McColls in Wroughton, Shell filling station and shop in and Collingbourne Ducis Spar.
The raiders were caught on CCTV and CID spokesman Kev Golledge, said: “Since November we have had a number of very similar incidents at shops and petrol stations across the county. All incidents have happened in the early hours of the morning, and usually involves a group of approximately four to five men, wearing balaclavas or scarves to cover their faces.
“The group has spent no more than five minutes in each store, and a large quantity of cigarettes has been stolen from each store.”
He added: “We are aware that similar incidents have been reported in neighbouring forces, including Thames Valley, Hampshire and Avon and Somerset. The vehicles used, often Mercedes or Audis, are believed to have been stolen.
“We would urge shopkeepers to be mindful about the amount of cigarettes they leave in-store overnight. We are also appealing for anyone who has any information on any of these incidents to contact us immediately via 101.”
Alternatively, call the independent Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.