Man accused of stealing cases of cigarettes

Kevin Monroe
Kevin Monroe

ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) – We've uncovered an arrest in a bizarre shoplifting investigation.  Ashland Police have charged Kevin Monroe with grand larceny for stealing cigarettes. He allegedly took not packs or cartons, but cases of them from multiple stores.

These latest charges are from both Ashland and Hanover. On Tuesday when those warrants were served, the 47-year-old was in Henrico court for a different larceny case. Now, police are investigating whether Monroe has been pulling off this bizarre theft in other jurisdictions.

Using the art of distraction and a partner in crime, Ashland Police said Kevin Monroe was able to get away with thousands of dollars worth of cigarettes from 7-11 and a local pharmacy.

"They were creating a distraction to the managers, the clerks whoever was inside the business at the time, while the other one was taking cartons and cases of cigarettes out," explained Lt. James Shelhorse.

Sometimes the boxes were left by the door. And in one situation, we're told the suspect made it all the way to a back office to snatch the goods.

We've heard of people grabbing packs of cigarettes; some thieves have even swiped a carton, which has ten packs in it. This guy allegedly stole cases of cigarettes. That's usually 30 cartons in a case, adding up to 300 packs of cigarettes.

Gayla Petery, who owns Cigarette City, said each case is easily worth upwards of a thousand dollars.

"It always seems when the holidays come, people start doing stupid stuff," she told NBC12.  "And I'm sure wherever they stole this from this guy is out of money too. He paid for those cigarettes and they're going to take them somewhere and they're going to sell them."

Petery said there is a black market for the goods. She follows police advice of always having another person keep watch to make sure this kind of thief won't strike here.

"I don't think I'd be very happy," she explained. "I mean, that's a lot of money to lose for just one case. But to do it all the time, you're talking a lot of money."

Ashland Police have not been able to positively identify Monroe's alleged partner in crime. If you can help, call Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.

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