String of break-ins at Liquor Stores puts owners on high alert

Source: Live 5 News (Highway 78 break-in)
Source: Live 5 News (Highway 78 break-in)
Source: Hanahan Police Department (Break-in near North Rhett Avenue)
Source: Hanahan Police Department (Break-in near North Rhett Avenue)

Liquor store owners across the Tri-County are on high alert following a string of break-ins over the past few weeks.

Stores in Mount Pleasant, Ladson, North Charleston, and Hanahan have been the victims of these break-ins and owners believe the same person is responsible for them.

In the last week, three stores were hit, by an unknown burglar.

"Whoever this is they should put a stop to it," said Dhaval Shah, the owner of a liquor store off Highway 78 in Ladson. "Police are working hard. They're coordinating and trying to figure out if it's the same person and how to catch him."

Shah's store was broken into early Sunday morning. What he saw when he went to review surveillance footage surprised him.

"He broke through my front door, jumped over the counter, and took the cash register and took off basically," Shah said.

The burglar was able to break the glass by using concrete like cinder-block.

"Kind of like a broken curb, a piece of broken curb or something like that," Shah said.

In video surveillance the person responsible is wearing a black cap, a white bandana over his face, a dark jacket, and gloves.

A police report added he was wearing camo skinny jeans, and tennis shoes.

That same description appears in several incident reports from North Charleston, Mount Pleasant and Hanahan over the last few weeks.

"[He's] somebody definitely athletic [to hop over the counter]," Shah added.

In this case, the burglar was able to get away with the register. However, some owners of other businesses say the person wasn't able to get away with money, but did steal a bottle or two. Some say it's because of the time of year that these break-ins are happening.

"Definitely the holiday season, people are in need of money and that's what's causing all these break-ins," Shah said.

North Charleston, Dorchester Road break-ins in October

In a separate case, a North Charleston store off Dorchester Road near Ashley Phosphate was hit twice in late October.

According to a North Charleston Police report, shortly after 4:00 a.m on October 23, a male suspect, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, pants, sneakers, and gloves broke the glass to the front door with an unknown object.

The report said the suspect entered and began putting bottles of liquor into a backpack that he was carrying. He also removed the cash register draw and took money.

Over one week later on October 31, around 2:20 a.m., police were called for a burglary alarm.

That report states video surveillance showed a suspect knock the glass out of the glass door, enter the store, and then "calmly remove liquor from the shelves, then place it into a book bag he was carrying."

The suspect also dumped money from the cash register into his book bag.

The report added, "The suspect almost seemed to be "shopping" as he was scanning the liquor selection to see what he wanted to take."

This suspect was also wearing a hooded sweatshirt, jeans, sneakers, and black gloves. However the reports added this time the person had a handkerchief or half mask on to cover his face.

Mount Pleasant break-ins in October and November

On October 30 Mt. Pleasant police were dispatched for an alarm call shortly after 4:00 a.m. at a liquor store off Basket Weave Drive.

Upon arrival a report states they saw damage to the front window using a rock.

Mt. Pleasant police said the window was shatter but the suspect was unable to get into the building because of the thickness of the glass.

Security footage from nearby businesses showed an unknown male wearing a black hoodie, black beanie hat, black pants, and white or grey sneakers.

Due to the person's inability to get into the store, not bottles or money was taken.

On November 4 at 1:47 a.m. Mt. Pleasant police were dispatched for a burglary alarm at a liquor store off Johnnie Dodds Boulevard.

A police report states upon arrival there was shatter glass on the ground, a computer monitor was knocked down on the counter, four small wine bottles were laying on the ground in front of the counter, and a cash register was open.

Security footage show a suspect throw an object through the glass door, head to the register, rip it from the wires, open a second register and take that money, and leave.

That object was later identified as a piece of brick of concrete that shattered into pieces.

According to the report that suspect was in the store for roughly one minute.

The report said the burglar was wearing a black shirt, black pants, black shoes, black mask, and a light color mossy oak obsession pattern cap.

It added the person is approximately 6'0", and between 160-170 pounds.

On November 12 shortly before 7:30 a.m. police were called to a liquor store off Houston Northcutt Boulevard for a burglary.

When officers got to the scene they saw shattered glass from the front door. When police entered the building the alarm for the store went off.

According to a report, dispatch never received an alarm call during the night.

Mt. Pleasant police said there were no surveillance cameras inside the store, however the owner told them his cash drawer was gone.

The owner added he didn't noticed anything suspicious when he closed up his store the previous night.

While investigating officers discovered the glass was broken with a concrete type rock that had shattered and spilled along the inside of the building.

Hanahan break-in 

On November 13, Hanahan Police were dispatched to a liquor store near North Rhett Avenue for an attempted burglary.

A police report states the door appeared to have been struck two time with a heavy object, and that it was completely shattered.

A security video from inside the store showed a white male subject looking through the glass portion of the door at 4:56 a.m., then hitting it with what appeared to be a sledge hammer twice.

The report says when the subject realized he was not going to bust through, he left the scene.

A nearby store was able to capture a picture of the subject who was wearing long pants, a long sleeve shirt, with a beanie/netted hat and scarf.

Hanahan Police Lt. Michael Fowler believes this suspect is the same person behind burglaries in North Charleston and Ladson.

North Charleston, Rivers Avenue break-in

On November 13 just before 4:30 a.m. police were dispatched to a burglary at a liquor store off Rivers Avenue.

Upon arrival officers notice the front door, made of glass, was completely broken.

Officers found a "baseball size rock" inside the store.

Video footage of the break-in showed the burglar throwing the baseball size rock through the window. A report states he had a skinny build and was wearing a black skull cap, sunglasses, white bandana, black jacket, black gloves, light blue jeans, and a tan lugz type boots.

The burglar then hopped over the counter to get to the cash registers only to find them empty.

After searching a few drawers the suspect left the store empty handed in an unknown direction.

Because of these break-ins, store owners are beefing up their security efforts, which includes installing more security cameras, ahead of the holiday season.

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