New crime trend sweeping across our state - cooler thefts

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Cooler thefts sweeping across Southeast

New surveillance video shows a possible crime ring hitting stores across the southeast.

The thieves are targeting Yeti coolers.

The popular coolers can cost anywhere between $250 and $800.

Police said thieves grabbed $2,000 worth of coolers from an Academy Sports store in Hickory, then ran through the store and out the back door of the business to a waiting car.

Police said the thieves are seen on surveillance photos from Academy Sports.

The three men are seen entering the store, and within minutes one is seen running out the back of the business with the coolers in hand.

WSOC reports Yeti coolers were under lock and key Wednesday after a similar theft at an Ace Hardware store in Cherryville, North Carolina.

"It's pretty crazy. They knew what they were doing. They came in, grabbed what they wanted to grab, and they were gone," Ace Hardware employee Susan Carswell said.

Customers said Yeti coolers are highly sought after by outdoorsmen because of their ability to keep items cold for several days in a row.

"They're a high-dollar cooler because they can keep ice for like over 7 days. They're kind of like the Michael Jordan sneaker of virtual coolers. People spend a lot of money for them," Ed Cutler said.

The coolers are hot products for a group that authorities said have already struck in Rock Hill, South Carolina; Hickory, North Carolina; and Cherryville, North Carolina; along with stores in upstate South Carolina and near Atlanta, Georgia.

Police believe that the thieves might be using rental cars during the thefts to make their getaways.

"They backed their car in, and from our cameras we could see they popped the trunk. They grabbed what they wanted and were out before she could put the phone down and say, "Hey how are you?" Carswell said.

Police are still trying to determine where the coolers are ending up.

They are focusing some of their efforts on online sites, hoping for a break in the case.

Read more from WSOC

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