Local thieves are now targeting cigarettes, according to a series of reports from several northeast Ohio police departments.
Police say cigarette bandits have hit stores and gas stations in Rocky River, Akron, Canton, Euclid and South Euclid in recent weeks.
Four cigarette robberies have taken place in Cleveland's second district since October. Most of those cases show suspects in the stores on surveillance pictures.
Police in South Euclid report they caught one suspect shortly after he allegedly used a toy gun to hold-up the Speedway gas station of Mayfield Road.
Officers Joe Di Lillo, Will Lazor, Bryan Hegyes, Robert Baldyga and Pat Delehanty arrested 35-year-old Jim T. Glover without incident, after police say Glover was caught with a box filled with $500 in stolen cigarettes.
"It's seven or eight dollars a pack, and if your steal 30 or 40 packs, they a worth a lot of money," said Di Lillo.
Mohammed Fekieh, owner of the Gas USA on Denison Avenue in Cleveland, told News 5 cigarettes are a growing target among thieves because they are easy to sell on the street or trade for drugs.
Fekieh said in many cases a robber can get 50 cents on the dollar for them.
"No it doesn't surprise me, because cigarettes are hot items," said Fekieh. "Cigarettes are very expensive, and they're good as money, they're good as cash. Anybody will buy them. If you go up and run around the streets and sell them for five dollars a pack. When they're saving five or ten dollars on them, they're going to buy them."