Alleged "cigarette bandit" identified

Charles Johnson (Source: Columbus Police Dept.)
Charles Johnson (Source: Columbus Police Dept.)

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Columbus Police say they have identified the man who has been breaking into businesses on the city's south side through the ceiling and taking thousands of dollars worth of cigarettes.

Charles Johnson, 28, was caught last week at Jeff's Fine Foods on Cusseta Road. The manager showed WTVM a giant hole in the ceiling of the store and said the business had been broken into several times and all that was stolen was Newport cigarettes.

Two masked men were seen in surveillance footage filling trash bags with cigarettes. The manager believed the intruders are selling the cigarettes on the side. Johnson was arrested at the scene by police. On police reports, his home address is listed as Cusseta Road, only a few blocks away from the convenience store.

Police say he is also the man seen in video from the Friendly Express Gas Station on North Lumpkin Road in South Columbus. The surveillance is grainy but you can see ceiling pieces start to crumble and fall to the floor in the enclosed glass area that contains the cash register, lottery tickets and cigarettes.

In the corner of the screen, feet appear and an intruder drops down and goes to work.

He fills plastic bags with cigarettes and goes back out the same way he came in. The owners say this happened twice in one week.

So far, Johnson is charged with seven burglaries.

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