When thieves broke into and robbed a Clarksburg gas station early Friday morning, they wound up taking more than mere merchandise.
A Fugit Township staple for nearly 30 years, Robbins Gas Station and Convenience Store has suffered more than its share of break-ins — at least 10, according to owners’ estimates — since the shop first opened its doors.
To say that owners Tom and Coletta Robbins are fed up might be a bit of an understatement.
The Robbins’ store was victimized for the second time in less than a year early Friday morning, when a pair of thieves broke a window, entered the store and made off with more than $500 worth of merchandise.
Tom Robbins told the Daily News the suspects busted through a window and proceeded to enter the store after wedging themselves through a narrow opening next to the store’s ice machine. They then loaded up backpacks and grocery sacks with cigarettes, chewing gum, beef jerky, cigarette lighters, lip balm and soft drinks.
The thieves also caused damage throughout the store, ransacked the office, and took approximately $50 worth of change from the cash register.
The incident comes on the heels of a similar break-in last summer, during which a small group of teenagers took a large amount of smokeless tobacco after smashing a door open.
Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Woodhull is investigating the incident. Sheriff Greg Allen said detectives within his department may soon join the investigation.
The Robbins’ notified police when they became aware of the latest theft as they opened their store Friday morning.
Tom Robbins said he and his wife were still finding items missing Friday afternoon, and they were attempting to catalog as many of the stolen goods as possible. Until that work is complete, the store owners won’t have an accurate estimate of what they’ve lost in this burglary.
The store owners have installed camera systems in order to protect themselves from such incidents, but Tom Robbins said the still photos they have of the suspects entering the store Friday morning aren’t of the highest quality. Those responsible for the break-in also took measures to hide their faces, obscuring themselves with the hoods of their coats.
In terms of stolen items, the thieves appeared to be rather indiscriminate.
They took cigarette packs by the dozen and even added a few unopened cartons to their haul. They also took the jars in which their ill-gotten beef jerky had previously been housed upon the store’s shelves. This was in addition to snagging cigarette rolling papers and soft drinks out of the store’s cooler.
Incidents such as this have been difficult to bear for the Robbins’ who, as have so many other store owners throughout the area and across the nation, felt the effects of a trying economy recently.
Tom Robbins said his store’s sales have been down this year, from difficulty moving general merchandise to sagging sales at the gas pump.
Friday’s break-in clearly hasn’t done the couple any favors, either, and they expressed frustration when speaking with the Daily News Friday afternoon.
“We’re here to try and give people a place to shop that isn’t far away,” said Coletta Robbins of her store, which is the only one of its kind in Clarksburg. “We want people to respect that we’re just trying to make a living and help others — like everyone else.”
Anyone with information pertaining to this case should contact the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department at 663-8125.
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056