By Jason A. Smith
McDonough Police say they believe two juveniles, arrested earlier this week for the burglary of a tobacco store, may be part of a "bigger picture" involving more potential suspects.
According to Police Detective Ken Noble, the juveniles were seen traveling in a SUV on South Zack Hinton Parkway around 4 a.m., on March 31.
An officer noticed the SUV, because the vehicle's headlights were not turned on.
"When they were spotted ... a short vehicle pursuit ensued," Detective Noble said. "At that time, both juveniles exited the vehicle, and took flight. Both were apprehended a short time later."
Once the suspects were apprehended, Noble said, police searched the vehicle and found a "large amount of tobacco products," including cigarettes, weighing scales and other related materials.
At that same time, the detective explained, officers were notified by radio about an alarm call from the Tobacco Emporium at 238 Keys Ferry St.
"Once officers went to that location, they discovered that the business had been burglarized," Noble said, adding that authorities immediately linked the juvenile suspects to the crime.
Authorities then notified the owner about the incident, and learned that the items the juveniles took from the store were worth approximately $3,000-4000.
Noble said thefts at cigar stores are "not uncommon," but that the juveniles' involvement makes the incident stand out.
"We're thinking that the operation is ... more of a bigger picture," he noted, adding that the juveniles may have been acting on the orders of someone else.
However, he said, police have not obtained any concrete evidence to support their suspicions.
Deep Patel, 41, took over as owner of the Cigar Emporium in January, and said the March 31 incident was his "first experience" as the victim of such a crime.
Patel credited McDonough Police with "protecting the store" until he arrived on the scene, and with returning the stolen items to him.
"I got everything back in 10 minutes, so I'm happy," he said.
The two juveniles, Noble said, are being held at the Regional Youth Detention Center in Griffin, on $20,000 bond.