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Thieves smash car into smoke shop in dramatic surveillance footage

A still taken from surveillance video shows thieves ransacking a smoke shop.
A still taken from surveillance video shows thieves ransacking Cigarettes Cheaper early Wednesday. | Source: KGO-TV/ABC7

Thieves smashed through the front door of a Richmond District cigarette store with an SUV and stole dozens of cartons of cigarettes and other merchandise, surveillance footage shared with The Standard showed.

Zaid Rahmani, co-owner of Cigarettes Cheaper at 5300 Geary Blvd., did not respond to multiple requests for comment Wednesday and Thursday but told NBC Bay Area that the break-in caused roughly $50,000 in damage. Rahmani said he’s no longer insured due to prior break-ins.

Video obtained by The Standard’s media partner ABC7 shows a car backing into the front entrance three times around 3:23 a.m. before the door gives way, allowing eight people dressed in black with face coverings to stream into the store.

Surveillance video shows thieves crashing a car into Cigarettes Cheaper early Wednesday. | Source: Courtesy KGO-TV/ABC7

They immediately hop over the glass counter and begin pulling cartons of cigarettes off the shelves, stuffing the merchandise into boxes and duffel bags. Less than a minute after the break-in, a person carrying bolt cutters hops over the counter, the video shows. At 3:26 a.m., an individual is seen kicking and shattering a glass display case before stealing merchandise inside.

Seconds after the thieves flee, flashing red and blue police lights illuminate the doorway of the ransacked shop, the video shows.

San Francisco police said officers responded to a burglary in progress at a business on Geary Boulevard between 17th and 18th avenues and observed possible suspects entering vehicles and fleeing the scene. Police said they tried to stop the fleeing cars, which did not yield. A spokesperson for the department also said there was a crash between a police car and one of the fleeing vehicles, but they didn’t say who caused the crash.

Police said the store’s entrance showed signs of forced entry, but it was unoccupied when they searched it. No arrests have been made.

Local resident Mark Dietrich has organized a GoFundMe to help pay for the store’s damages and losses. As of Thursday evening, it had raised just $450 of its $10,000 goal.

“If you know … these small business owners, you know that they are loyal, hard-working and loving men trying to provide for their families,” Dietrich wrote on the fundraiser page. “Please consider making a donation to help them cover some of their losses due to rampant crime, and help them keep their business here in the Richmond District.”