CRIME ALERT: Stores Hit by Thieves Looking for Expensive Power Tools

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Thieves are targeting stores for power tools. At least two stores have been hit this week.

On Friday morning, AutoZone along Hal Greer Blvd was the latest.

In these cases, the thieves have gotten away with fairly expensive tools.

At one store, a thief was caught clearly on camera.

"We hope that they can apprehend him," said State Electric Supply Company Assistant Manager Mark Hanna.

Managers at State Electric Supply Company keep replaying surveillance video from Thursday.

"Some of our guys saw him looking kind of suspicious and really were [watching] him as he was here," Hanna said.

They're trying to figure out the identity of a thief.

On surveillance video, you can see him walking back and forth, near a display of power tools. He also eyes an exit path from the area.

Moments later, the man grabs two sets of power drills and runs for the exit.

A store clerk chases the man to the front door, outside to a black, early 2000s model Chevrolet Cavalier.

In the video, you can see the passenger door opened by what appears to be the man's partner in crime, before they hit the gas and leave the parking lot.

"That's become a problem when we have people walking in from the outside, who have no intention of purchasing at State Electric. They just want to steal our product and take it out to make a profit," Hanna said.

He said the drills cost about $600 a piece. He believes the thefts are for a quick buck for drugs.

"What's most painful to me that he will probably take this down the street and sell it at a pawn shop for $50," Hanna said.

As referenced earlier, AutoZone along Hal Greer Boulevard was also hit.

Workers said the man got away on Friday with two power tools, costing anywhere from $60 to $100 a piece.

They said the thief sped off in a black Chevrolet Cavalier and appeared to be in his 20s.

For Hanna, this trend is unsettling.

He said the store is already making changes to stop it from happening again.

"We'd like to have our tools back and we'd like to eliminate this from happening in the future," he said.

In Barboursville, police have been working their own investigation after a man stole a drill set at a Lowe's. They estimate that one was worth roughly $600.

Police also busted a theft ring earlier this week in Huntington, where investigators found tens of thousands of dollars in stolen tools.

Officials tell they are investigating whether the two Huntington store cases are connected.

But from talking with workers at AutoZone and State Electric Supply Company, the man in the surveillance video could be the same suspect.

If you recognize the man in the surveillance video, you are asked to call police or your local 911 center.

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