Semi truck carrying cigars stolen, recovered

Published 11:25 am Friday, May 3, 2013

Decatur County Sheriff’s deputies were able to recover a semi-trailer truck loaded with $300,000 worth of cigars after it was stolen on the evening of Friday, April 26.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, a truck belonging to Alabama Motor Express of Dothan, Ala., was stolen from the parking lot of the SP Truck Stop on Dothan Road in Bainbridge last Friday.

The truck’s driver, who had picked up the cigars from Tampa, Fla., and was on his way back to Alabama, had stopped at the SP Truck Stop to take a break and get something to eat, Sheriff’s Investigator Redell Walton said.

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When the truck driver came back outside shortly after 6 p.m., he was alarmed to find his truck had been stolen.

Sheriff’s deputies immediately began looking for the truck with the help of the trucking company, which had a GPS unit inside the truck’s cab. A be-on-the-lookout alert containing the truck’s description was shared with law enforcement in Grady and Thomas counties.

A couple of hours later, Thomas County Sheriff’s deputies located the stolen semi-trailer truck at a truck stop located off the U.S. Highway 84 bypass in Thomasville, Walton said. Decatur Sheriff’s deputies traveled to Thomasville to secure the truck and found its valuable load of cigars was still intact.

“We think the thief or thieves may have been attempting to transport the cigars to a place where tobacco taxes are especially high, such as New York or south Florida,” Walton said. “This kind of crime is becoming more common, so we definitely believe this case involved an organized attempt to steal a semi.”

Walton said deputies identified a potential suspect and questioned him, but at this time, no charges have been filed. Investigation into the case is still ongoing. Walton said he has been in contact with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and a New Jersey-based company that monitors highway shipping thefts.

Walton recalled a Bainbridge Public Safety case from December 2012 in which a semi-trailer truck was stolen from the Kangaroo Truck Stop on U.S. 84 West. That truck was never recovered.