Thief steals hurricane relief donations
A surveillance camera at the Airport Mobil station recorded the thief as he made off with a jug full of donations for hurricane relief. Photos by Ezra Blair
A thief who broke into the Airport Mobil service station over the weekend knew what he was after.
At about 1:30 in the morning on Sunday, a man wearing a hood tightly pulled around his face hurled a rock through the glass door at the Airport Mobil service station. In total, he spent eight seconds in the store — just enough time to grab a five-gallon water jug that was filled with approximately $2,000 in donations for hurricane relief.
The robber was caught on the store's surveillance cameras, but Edgartown police, who are investigating the incident, said that he had covered his face with his hood.
Sgt. Kenneth Johnson of the Edgartown police said that the man has a thin build and was wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, jeans, and white sneakers.
The Mobil station at the Airport Business Park.
Sergeant Johnson said that police do not have any suspects. He encouraged anyone with any information to contact the Edgartown police at 508-627-4343. Tips can be made anonymously, he said.
"It really just hurts more than anything," said Michael Rotondo, an owner of the gas station. "This is money that was clearly earmarked for Hurricane Katrina relief. It was for people that have no food and no place to live. It was just a little grassroots effort to get a little something to try and help, and it's just heinous that someone would steal that."
Mr. Rotondo said that the thief narrowly missed setting off the store's motion detectors.
"I have something like $15,000 in security equipment in there, but it looks like as he reached for the jug, if his hand had gone just three or four more inches the motion detector would have picked him up and it would have wailed like a stuck pig," he said.
While the thief might have been lucky not to trip the motion detectors, the heist was not all dumb luck. Mr. Rotondo said that the man was smart enough not to park his car on the gas station's property, which is covered by surveillance cameras. Mr. Rotondo said that the video from the cameras shows the man leaving the scene through the gas station parking lot, heading toward Barnes Road.
"Even with all the high technology, with freeze frames and all of that, it doesn't look like there is enough on the tapes to pinpoint this guy," he said. But Mr. Rotondo remained optimistic.
"The police, God bless them," he said. "I always love the Edgartown police. They always do a great job, and I know they are working hard to catch this guy."
The weekend break-in is not the first time that the Mobil station has been robbed. In March of 2004, security cameras caught two burglars stealing approximately $20,000 in cash and checks from the store's safe.
After a detailed investigation, Edgartown police arrested a Tisbury man and an Edgartown man in connection with the burglary. While police were executing search and arrest warrants for the two suspects, they discovered a cache of drugs, drug paraphernalia, cash, and stolen property at a house in Edgartown, which led to the arrest of three other men, including two Island residents and a New Bedford man.
Police said that the video surveillance equipment played a key role in that investigation. They said that the robbers had removed the videotape from the recorder after they broke into the gas station, but that they did not take the tape with them when they left.