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Cash missing from six businesses on 61S

Vicksburg Police Lt. Robert Donohue, far left, Lt. Davy Barnette and Patrolman David LaSalle look for evidence of forced entry into Ideal Pawn Shop at 4002 U.S. 61 South Monday following a string of burglaries in the area. Burglaries were reported at six businesses. (MELANIE DUNCAN THORTISThe Vicksburg Post)

[1/7/03]A string of six business burglaries in a mile-and-a-half stretch of U.S. 61 South had Vicksburg Police today testing forensic evidence and following leads.

About $720 in cash was reported missing Monday morning from the businesses, all hit overnight.

The businesses burglarized, all on the east side of the well-traveled, four-lane highway, are:

Egremont Bar-B-Que, 4002, Suite A, $60.

El Ranchero, 4004, $400.

Matthews Auto Parts Inc., 4404, $12.

Satellite Video, 4716, $30.

River City Automotive Glass, 5266, $200.

Warrenton Farm and Garden Center, 5320, $18.

Also from El Ranchero, a surveillance security camera worth about $500 was reported missing, manager Thomas Barton said.

“They gathered a lot of forensic evidence from the burglaries and are following up leads now,” Vicksburg Police Capt. Mark Culbertson said of detectives working the cases.

The thief or thieves was apparently after cash and did little damage apart from the break-ins themselves, managers said. Offices were rifled, but merchandise was left untouched.

Much of the cash taken was in coins, rolled and unrolled, managers said.

At Egremont Bar-B-Que, owner Shawn Sherrill was replacing a 1-inch deadbolt lock on the back door to his business around midday Monday.

“This wasn’t done by a rookie,” he said, adding that the lock’s bolt was bent despite the metal door’s having been designed to prevent such tampering.

Sherrill said an attempt was also made to enter a neighboring business, Dollar General Store, 4000 U.S. 61 South.

“They tried to punch a hole into Dollar General,” he said. “They popped the plywood off, but they knew if glass breaks, that will get you caught.”

For Warrenton Farm and Garden Center, which was apparently entered through an outside wall broken open with a crowbar, it was the third burglary in about 18 years, owner Wayne Tolbert said.

“They got about $18 in change, and they tore the office up trying to find money,” he said.

Barton said the last person left El Ranchero Sunday night about 9:30. Sherrill said that to have accomplished all six burglaries between late Sunday night and early Monday morning must have required at least two people.

“He had to have some tools and a ride,” he said of whoever bent the bolt on his door lock. “There had to be more than one to get all this done in this short a time.”

Cash was also reported missing Monday in two business burglaries on South Frontage Road. Culbertson said this morning, however, police had no reason to believe those burglaries and the ones on U.S. 61 South were linked.