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Thieves strike

FORKLAND – A busted-out glass door was the point of entry for two determined thieves who hit one of the town’s two stores.

The Country Side Market&Deli Robbery was entered about 1:57 a.m. Wednesday and was robbed of a computer system, window air conditioners and consignment-store shoes, said Store Manager Iretha Hunt.

The thieves, who appeared to be minors, however, didn’t get away scott-free, Hunt said.

“The surveillance camera captured the thieves in action,” she said. “They cut the power source but the back-up power supply kept the surveillance equipment operating.”

Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy Vestor Booker is one of three lawmen, including Sheriff Johnny Isaac, who make Forkland home. He responded to the call after Hunt discovered the break in.

Forkland has been without its own law enforcement officer since the retirement of Police Chief Abraham Croxton retired Jan. 7. The sheriff’s department currently has the primary law enforcement responsibility for the city.

The thieves apparently were determined to enter the store, Hunt said. Two unsuccessful attempts were made at entry – the first through a vent in the kitchen and once again through a back door, both attempts thwarted by bars. The third try was the charm through the front door. The pair also cut telephone lines and power to the building.

It wasn’t the only criminal activity in town early Wednesday morning.

Diane Acker, the store manager of Frank’s – the towns other store – said the pair evidently tried to break into her store as well.

“They cut our phone line, but couldn’t get in. We’re pretty secure here,” she said.

She said her store hadn’t seen much trouble in the town of about 650 on Alabama Highway 43 North since Frank’s was burglarized two years ago – twice in a two-week period. Until Wednesday morning.

Acker said the problem of not having local law enforcement on patrol creates a situation where she, at random, keeps watch over the two stores at night.

Armed with her car backed into an inconspicuous location that gives her a vantage of both stores, she said nothing much usually happens.

“Last night wasn’t one of those nights,” she said.

She gives the sheriff’s department high marks for responding when they’re called – even applauds the help of an occasional state trooper or conservation officer, but concedes the town would be better off with two lawmen of its own to keep watch.

“I think we need someone in the area all the time,” she said. “The Sheriff’s Department comes when they’re called and they’re in the area a lot … they pretty much come through and check on us,” she said. “It’s adequate (police protection) but I’m not going to say that we don’t need someone here full time.”

Until the town can hire new police officers, Acker said the best-case scenario was for neighbors to keep watch over each other.

“Everybody tries to pitch in and help each other in this community,” she said. “Everybody knows each other and everybody helps each other.”

“Some of this mess might stop if we got a neighborhood watch and people took turns (patrolling),” Acker added.

The robbery is under investigation and arrests are expected soon, Hunt said.

– Guy Ferrell and Carol Branch contributed to this report.