A determined crook has made off with an estimated $5,000 in cigarettes from a store in Glace Bay by apparently hiding in the ceiling before breaking through and filling a duffel bag with the stolen smokes.

James MacDonald, the owner of Glace Bay Variety, stopped into his store at 50 McKeen St. early Wednesday morning and discovered a mess — including several knocked out ceiling tiles.

His fiancée, Collette Anderson, said it appears the thief worked hard to get to his goal.

The couple believe the thief first got into the building — which has multiple tenants — by breaking through a window of a vacant store and from there, going up into the rafters.

A walk among the rafters

Dust marks and other signs indicate the thief roamed around up there, Anderson said, before encountering a barrier that prevented him from getting into the variety store.

He apparently backtracked to his starting point and went up into the rafters again, she said.

Anderson said even that didn't get the thief to his target.

"He knocked through to Nicole's Barber Shop, realized that it wasn't our store and proceeded back up into the ceiling and dropped down into our back room," she said.

Video not much help

Anderson said the store's surveillance video captured images of the theft but neither she nor MacDonald recognize the man on the screen. 

Glace Bay Variety

The owner of Glace Bay Variety believes the thief got in by roaming in the rafters until he came to the ceiling over the store. (Jennifer Ludlow/CBC)

"He had absolutely no identifying marks and that's what made it so hard for us to try to figure out who this person was," she said.

"They had a T-shirt pulled right up over their face. I looked at different camera views and couldn't get even a slight idea of who it was until I posted on social media," she said.

Anderson said she was given the names of three possible culprits — all regular customers — and passed that information to Cape Breton Regional Police. A spokesperson for the police force confirmed officers are investigating.

Anderson said she's also upset the store's security alarm didn't go off.

The security company says it's looking into the situation and working with both police and Anderson.