HOUSTON -- Burglars have broken into 40 Dollar General stores in about two months and company officials are fed up.

They'll use a crowbar to pry open the lock at the door, said Loss Prevention Regional Manager Gus Castano.

Castano said after looking at surveillance video from the stores, they usually work in a group of three and one always grabs a trash can.

Sometimes they'll grab two and sometimes they'll come with a trash can already in hand, Castano said.

Their main target always seems to be the locked cigarette case.

The guys will use the same crowbar that they used to pry the door open, smash the glass, clear the glass and start pulling cigarettes, Castano said.

They will fill up the trash cans with the stolen loot.

In just about all of the cases, they've managed to get away with as much as $6,000 in tobacco products. The suspects also snatch at least $1,000 worth of other items picked up on the way out the back door.

In a matter of days, the threesome struck twice at Michael Coogan's store at 4000 Telephone Road.

When you come in, there's that initial frustration that this has happened, Coogan said. It's the equivalent of someone breaking into your home.

The thieves are always masked and one, who is always on the phone, seems to make a cameo in most of the burglary videos.

It's leading police and store officials to a similar conclusion.

It is a widespread problem with the same group of individuals doing this, Castano said.

Dollar General officials are so desperate they are offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspects. If you have any information that might help law enforcement solve these crimes, call your local police department.

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