A bandit known to local law enforcement officers as the “Cigarette Burglar” struck again on Wednesday at around 3 a.m., but this time there were a few surprises in store for both law enforcement officers and the thief, who is suspected of robbing numerous cigarette stores over the past year.
According to Sheriff Rick Clemons, the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to J. C.’s Cigarette Outlet’s Caneyville location when an alarm was set off in the early morning hours.
Deputy Adam Cottrell was en route to the location when he passed a vehicle which fit the description of a car that law enforcement officers believed to belong to the Cigarette Burglar.
Cottrell quickly notified Leitchfield Police Department of the vehicle as he continued on to J.C.’s.
LPD officer Todd Oller, who was ahead of the suspicious red Chevrolet Cavalier positioned himself to wait for the vehicle and gave pursuit for a distance. A nearby Kentucky State Police trooper was also rerouted to pursue the vehicle.
LPD abandoned pursuit of the suspected thief on Highway 259 South, and moments later, the Cavalier wrecked approximately three miles south of the city limits.
Officers quickly discovered the wrecked vehicle, which was abandoned after the driver fled from the scene on foot. GCSO, LPD and KSP worked together to search for the driver.
A trained canine was also brought in for the search. Utilizing the dog’s ability to track the driver’s scent, the officers followed the trail for some distance before the dog lost the scent.
The Cavalier was removed from the scene and impounded. The items in the vehicle were inventoried by GCSO, and arrest warrants were issued for 29-year-old Nicholas Thompson for burglary and other charges. Multiple cartons of cigarettes believed to have been stolen from J.C.’s were found inside the vehicle.
Hours later, according to Clemons, his department was made aware of a vehicle theft on Bloomington Road, near the area in which the driver of the Cavalier fled. A 2006 Chevy 2500 belonging to Clayton Watkins Construction Company was stolen from the residence of Calvin Blanton, and officers were working under the suspicion that the driver of the Cavalier had likely stolen the truck and fled in it.
The stolen truck was recovered later in the day by the Radcliff Police Department. The truck had been abandoned behind an area store.
At just after 6:30 p.m., Thompson was finally apprehended in Meade County by the Muldraugh Police Department. He was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to Jailer Troy Seelye.
The citation issued by MPD’s Officer Brinkley states that the controlled substance in question “appeared to be heroin.”
At press time, Thompson was being held in the Meade County Detention Center. The Grayson County Sheriff Office’s investigation into Thompson’s case is ongoing.
A string of cigarette burglaries has been “terrorizing” Grayson and many surrounding counties over the past year, according to Clemons, and Thompson showed up as a suspect from the beginning.
Three weeks ago, GCSD hosted an intelligence meeting with law enforcement representatives from many surrounding counties as well as from the FBI to discuss the Cigarette Bandit and to share information in the hopes that the interdepartmental collaboration would help to bring the criminal to justice.
“Every agency kept coming back with the same mode of operation and car description,” Clemons said, explaining that all agencies believed the crimes were linked.
“The way all the agencies worked together was outstanding,” Clemons said.
Clemons also commended the alertness and quick action of Deputy Cottrell and LPD, which led ultimately to the capture of the man suspected of being behind these crimes.