Lawrence Co. Business Plagued By Multiple Thefts, All Captured On Surveillance Cameras

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NEW CASTLE (KDKA) — Multiple crimes at a family-owned tobacco shop in Lawrence County are taking a toll on the owners, and their pocketbook as well.

Police were back at the Puff & Snuff store in New Castle early Wednesday morning, this time because of an overnight break-in.

A thief used a rock to break the glass, and get in through the front door, officials said. He came back a few moments later, climbed in, spent a couple of minutes inside taking as many cigarettes as he could, and then left the same way he came in.

It’s the latest in a rash of crimes targeting the store.

Michelle Cioffi, the store owner, said, “What’s next? How much more? How much more can we put up with?”

In addition to the latest theft, police were at the shop three times in the last two weeks, taking reports about shoplifting incidents. Everything was captured on video by the store’s surveillance system.

Cioffi told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “Many cameras, motion detectors, shatter detectors for the windows. Next, we have to put bars on the window. Where do you go from there?”

Cioffi says her family has spent a small fortune buying the building and renovating it. They have insurance, but deductibles comes into play each time there’s a crime.

She wonders how high the insurance premiums will be going up, or if the insurance company will drop them.

“My fear is that the next time, one of my family members will be here,” Cioffi said. “It frightens me to see what’s happening to my neighborhood, what’s happening to our community.”

New Castle City Police are handling the investigation. The owners say police are making progress. But, so far, there’s been no arrest.

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