Cigarette theft ring hits several Walgreens as new California tax raises prices

A group of men are suspected of stealing large quantities of cigarettes from Walgreens locations across the eastern San Fernando Valley, including in Burbank, according to authorities.

Sometime around 4 a.m. June 20, two men entered the Walgreens at 1028 S. San Fernando Blvd. They walked up to an employee and told her to “stay back” as they began putting cartons of cigarettes into a pillow case, according to Sgt. Derek Green, spokesman for the Burbank Police Department.

They then fled in a waiting vehicle described as possibly a gray four-door sedan, Green said.

Walgreens stores in Van Nuys, North Hollywood and Arleta have reported similar thefts. It’s estimated that they have stolen thousands of dollars’ worth of cigarettes.

Green said the men are described as being their 30s, wearing baggy clothing and baseball hats.

It’s possible the men are reselling the cigarettes on the black market, according to Green. The price of a pack of cigarettes in California increased by $2 after voters approved the hike last November.

It’s unknown if the three are armed, but they did not display any weapons during the thefts. Green said they have also used a different vehicle every time to flee.

Anyone with information is asked to call Burbank police at (818) 238-3245. Anonymous tips can be called in to (800) 222-8477.

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