CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Thieves smashed their way into two gas stations early Thursday in Middletown.
The break-ins happened just 12 minutes apart. Authorities believe the break-ins may be connected.
The thieves targeted the Shell Station on North Verity Parkway first around 3:31 a.m. Police say they used some type of tool to smash the glass, and the two men were in and out in seconds.
The owner of the Shell Station, Doc Patel, still has a lot of repairs to make after two men forced their way into his store.
"There was glass everywhere and they mess everything in the store," said Patel.
The surveillance video shows the glass shattering and the men walking in with a big trash can -- they fill it with cigarettes, lighters, and then leave with a few sunglasses.
Patel says he had left the store about 20 minutes before the crooks arrived.
"I got lucky because I was not here. If I was here they'd try to hurt me too. Thank God at least they don't hurt me," said Patel.
Police say the men walked away with about $6,000 worth of cigarettes before hitting up the Speedway on Roosevelt Boulevard. In the surveillance pictures released from police, one man had his face wrapped in a pink scarf -- the other had his eyes covered in a winter hat.
Similar to the other break-in at Shell, a trash can was used to clean house.
The crooks are still on the run.
Patel says business must continue as usual -- but with his merchandise stolen, surveillance camera wires cut, and his door smashed in he is looking at around $27,000 in repairs.
He has this message for the two men involved: "This is the land of opportunity. You can be what you want to -- just work hard."
Police say the men were driving a white or light-colored Pontiac Sunfire. Anyone with information is asked to call the Middletown Criminal Investigations Unit at 513-425-7736.