SPANISH FORT, Ala. (WALA) — At least two burglars cut a hole in the roof of the Best Buy store in Spanish Fort and stole a large amount of computer equipment with Black Friday just days away, police said Wednesday.
Spanish Fort police chief John Barber told FOX10 News that the burglary occurred in the early morning hours when the store was closed. He said surveillance video shows at least two people.
He said the thieves targeted Apple products. Barber said he did not immediately have a loss amount but added that it is substantial.
“These are kind of the Grinches that stole Christmas, and we plan on getting them.” he said.
According to Spanish Fort police, the burglary took place at between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Surveillance video shows two people, dressed all in black and faces covered, climbing into the store and carrying off a large amount of computer and electronics equipment.
“They cut a significant hole into the roof, made entry into the Best Buy with a ladder that they had brought. They left a ladder there,” Barber said. “They spent a quite a bit amount of time inside the store, targeting mainly the Apple products. And also, they got into some other laptops that where in these cages.”
Barber said this reminds him of a professional ring of thieves that hit Best Buys across the Southeast a few years ago. He was with the Mobile Police Department at the time and said criminals hit the store there and in Spanish Fort.
Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said on a conference call with analysts just this week that theft was becoming a bigger problem – so much so that it was rattling employees. She said the company was increasing security in response.
"This is traumatizing for our associates and is unacceptable” she said. “We are doing everything we can to try to create an as safe as possible environment.”
Best Buy shoppers on Wednesday expressed shock at the brazenness of the crime.
“Somebody knew what they were doing,” said Jerry Brown, an Elberta resident who was looking for games.
Frank Diaz, who was traveling from Memphis to Pensacola, stopped off at the store for a charger.
“Pretty ingenious,” he said. “Not necessarily ingenious, but from what I’ve gathered, the way it was done, is very – they would just put that much effort into designing or creating something. It’s pretty shocking, though. … It’s just terrible to hear that someone would do this just two days before Black Friday.”
Barber said the burglars spent about two hours inside the store, methodically removing valuable items. Afterward, he said, they left the ladder. Police found discarded saws, bolt cutters, drills and other tools in the store and on the roof.
“The individuals that hit the store had planned it out,” he said. “They knew where the merchandise were in store they knew how was positioned so they knew when they were coming in how to minimize their movements. So there was a lot of planning that went into this.”
Barber said detectives have some solid clues.
“We have some leads, and we’re running those down currently,” he said. “I hope to put somebody in jail before Christmas – hopefully before Black Friday.”
Updated at 5:30 p.m. with additional information.