New Castle News

October 25, 2012

Police charge accused ‘cigarette bandit’

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — New Castle police said they have identified their “cigarette bandit,” a man who allegedly goes into stores and steals smokes.

Police have filed multiple charges against Norman Virgil Wilkerson, 49, of Youngstown, for his alleged involvement in four cigarette thefts — at the 7-Eleven Store on Highland Avenue on June 26 and Aug. 10, the Red Apple store on Wilmington Avenue on Aug. 24, and the Tic Toc store on Highland Avenue on Aug. 25.

“He was going through stores grabbing cigarettes,” New Castle Police Chief Bobby Salem said. “We call him the cigarette bandit.”

In each case, the store clerks told police a man, later identified as Wilkerson, went to the counter, asked for cigarettes, snatched them in a bag or from the counter without paying, then ran out.

In the first incident at the 7-Eleven, two people outside said he had asked them for a dollar because he was short and wanted to buy cigarettes. One witness said he had given him a dollar. They told police Wilkerson said, “Well, the FBI will be looking for me now,” when he exited the store.

Police said they received information the man in all four video surveillance tapes was Wilkerson, who was in New Castle visiting his girlfriend on the city’s North Hill.

Wilkerson was charged with theft and receiving stolen property for each of the four thefts. He also is charged with robbery for the alleged theft at Red Apple.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)