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Smash & Grab Burglars Target E-Cigarette Stores

DENVER (CBS4)- Police in several cities in the Denver metro area are searching for a group of three burglars who have broken into seven businesses-- always stealing the same thing-- e-cigarette products.

The businesses that have been hit are located in Westminster, Northglenn, Lakewood, Denver and Arvada. One location has been hit twice.

vape burglaries map
(credit: CBS)

Although the thieves take anything they can get their hands on, they broke into the "Elements of Vapor" store in Arvada with baseball bats. They smashed cases and stole up to $5,000 worth of e-cigarette products even though the store is located in a busy shopping center, has an alarm system and seven surveillance cameras.

vape smash and grab
(credit: Elements of Vapor)

"When you see somebody breaking in your door and smashing your cases and stealing your stuff, it's a kick to the stomach," said Elements of Vapor owner Jessica Dempster.

The burglary was caught on tape. Even though it only took about two minutes, the thieves managed to destroy the business. The burglary happened just before 2 a.m. Thursday when the alarm system alerted the owners about the break-in.

"It's just pure destruction and it seemed almost random the items they were taking out of it," said store manager Cameron Kirkwood.

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Element of Vapor damage (credit: CBS)

Kirkwood said a string of break-ins at other vapor stores had them on edge and on alert, "Everytime one of these break-ins has occurred it's almost immediately up on social media and it gets the information to each other fast... 'Hey guys, my shop was broken into last night-- here's pictures off the surveillance cameras if you see this person let us know.'"

They were also on the lookout for stolen products from those stores. Kirkwood said it may be telling that nothing has turned up.

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Smash & grab burglary at Elements of Vapor (credit: Elements of Vapor)

"My fear is that they're possibly high school kids breaking and entering and then taking the stuff that they've stolen and selling it to other underage kids," said Kirkwood.

Dempster cried as she thought of all the thieves had taken but she said she is thankful too, for all the support the vapor community has given to her.

"My husband's Facebook post has had more than 13,000 views since this morning and so, whoever you are we are going to get you," said Dempster.

Dempster said they've received Facebook posts with words of encouragement, even offers of product from other vapor stores from all around the country and the world, as far away as France.

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