OLIVER SPRINGS—Another convenience store was hit by a vehicle this weekend, this one in Oliver Springs, and police suspect it was intentional.
The crash, which was reported at about 2:08 a.m. Sunday, smashed a door at Lee’s Food Mart on East Tri County Boulevard in Oliver Springs, at the bottom of the hill coming into Oliver Springs from Oak Ridge.
That crash followed one at K&J Market at about 2 a.m. Saturday in west Oak Ridge. In that case, a small sport utility vehicle was captured on tape smashing the front door of the convenience store, but it’s not clear why, a business representative said Saturday morning.
The Oliver Springs Police Department said the alarm at Lee’s Food Mart went off after an SUV hit it early Sunday, and nothing was taken. The SUV fled toward Oliver Springs, OSPD Sergeant Kevin Armes said.
Officers arrived and cleared the building.
Armes said the SUV, described as burgundy-colored, will have front-end damage. Police suspect the Oliver Springs crash early Sunday is related to the Oak Ridge crash early Saturday.
There was also a report of a damaged door at Paula’s Market gas station and convenience store on Oak Ridge Turnpike in east Oak Ridge early Saturday, although it wasn’t clear Saturday morning how that door was damaged or if it was related to the incident at K&J Market.
Jason Ross and Phil Brown of Allied Glass Company in Knoxville repaired the glass door at Lee’s Food Mart in Oliver Springs on Sunday.
Ross said they get about three to four calls like this per week in Knoxville. Drivers who intentionally crash into stores are usually trying to get beer and cigarettes, Ross said.
“We see this all the time in Knoxville,” Brown said.
Ross said a CVS in Knoxville was hit about two months ago, and these type of incidents usually occur in clusters. There were about four of them about two months ago in South Knoxville, Ross said.
Brown said one Marathon Oil on Kingston Pike has been hit four times this year. In that case, the suspect has been after Red Bull and cigarettes, he said.
The suspect’s been caught on tape, but police haven’t been able to stop him, Brown said. They watched the store for two weeks after one incident, but when they stopped watching it, the man hit the store again, Brown said.
Tony Jarrett, who is helping out at K&J Market, a relatively new store on Oak Ridge Turnpike, said the SUV that hit it early Saturday appeared to have been parked in front of the door for about three minutes, facing toward it.
The truck backed up a bit and rammed the double doors, Jarrett said.
“It didn’t break on the first hit,” he said, and the SUV bounced back a bit.
Then, the driver backed up farther and tried again, Jarrett said.
“Then, he hit it, and that’s when it all caved in,” Jarrett said.
He said it’s not clear what the driver might have been after, if anything, but there was an automated teller machine visible inside.
It’s also not clear what the driver or drivers might have been after elsewhere either, but both Paula’s and Lee’s Food Mart also have ATMs.
These types of calls appear to be unusual but not unprecedented. In December, an unidentified man used what appeared to be a crowbar to break a glass door and steal more than $4,000 worth of tobacco from a Marathon gas station and convenience store on Edgemoor Road in Claxton, authorities said.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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