Break-in crime leads cops to suspected cigarette smugglers

Posted at 12:10 AM, May 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-14 07:00:57-04

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)--On the 7500 block  of Woodman Road in Henrico, most neighbors have been there for decades, and most yards are kept in pristine condition, in all but one house.

Neighbors say the house has only been occupied a few months. Sheets went up to over the screens on the back porch almost immediately and vans transporting large boxes come and go frequently.  But on Friday more than the length of the grass drew neighbor’s attention to the house.

"I was on my way home and I see these cop cars here on Woodman Road., there's a cop car in the driveway and in the street as well," said neighbor Deborah Battle.

Friday afternoon a neighbor saw a break-in in progress at the home and quickly called police, which resulted in three suspects being arrested for breaking and entering. Today police went back with a warrant and say that "other criminal activity was uncovered" at the home.

Police seized numerous cartons of cigarettes of various brands. CBS 6 found two men in the driveway of the searched home this afternoon and asked about the police presence and cigarettes. But after refusing to answer our questions, the men quickly drove away in a van. Neighbors say they're grateful the ordeal is over.

"When neighbors are concerned for neighbors and they see something suspicious and report it than it's very helpful for the neighborhood in general,” said Battle.

Cigarette smuggling brings in top dollar; a $4.50 pack of cigarettes in Virginia will sell in New York City for about $13. Sales by the carton quickly add up to thousands, even millions in net from illegal smuggling.

This investigation is in the early stages, and ongoing, therefore no additional specifics may be released at this time in order to not compromise the investigation and aid in the prosecution, said Lt. C.J. Maurice.

This is a developing story….