Feb. 21, 2006 — Thieves stole some 40,000 packs of illegal cigarettes from a government warehouse on St. Thomas, an official said Tuesday.
The cigarettes — worth roughly $40,000 — were confiscated in September during a government sting on illegally sold tobacco, said Andrew Rutnik, commissioner of the Licensing and Consumer Affairs Department.
A department employee discovered the theft while preparing to transfer the cigarettes to the Bovoni landfill for destruction, Rutnik said.
"We went down there and discovered we were missing 4,000-plus cigarette cartons," he said.
The cigarettes were in a locked room, and there was no sign of forced entry, he said.
Rutnik, who plans to file a police report Wednesday on the theft, said whoever stole the Asian-made cigarettes faces a fine of $2,000 per carton for violating a V.l. law mandating that cigarettes sold in the territory be made in the United States.
The thieves could also face criminal charges, he said.
"This isn't just having the cigarettes. This is a crime," Rutnik said.
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