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ARREST IN STRING OF THEFTS BRINGS RELIEF TO SAUSAGEMAKER

An East Side sausagemaker who was getting a serious case of indigestion from a string of thefts was feeling better Saturday.

Peter J. Cichocki of Camellia General Provisions Co. thanked the Buffalo Police Department for arresting a man who allegedly had broken into a safe in one of his company's trucks Friday.

In the last year, thieves broke into five of Cichocki's delivery trucks several times while drivers were inside stores delivering sausage and other meats from the company's Genesee Street plant. "We were really at our wit's end on what to do. Four years ago, we put safes into the trucks to prevent robberies. Then someone started going around breaking into the safes," Cichocki said. "In the last six weeks, we've been hit three times. We felt like someone was targeting our trucks. It was happening all over the city."

At about 2:45 p.m. Friday, Detective Sgt. Robert Chella watched a Camellia truck that was parked on the 1400 block of Main Street for a delivery.

When the driver went inside the store, a thief entered the truck with a pry bar and broke into the safe, police said.

While Chella was calling for back-up assistance, the thief entered a getaway car driven by another individual and fled, with NFTA police chasing them.

The driver crashed his 1997 red Chevy Lumina into a tree on Glenwood Avenue near Purdy Street. As the thief left the car, Chella said, he threw the stolen money onto the ground.

Police accused Shawn D. Woods, 30, of Humason Avenue, of stealing about $1,600 in cash and checks from the truck's safe. They also said he possessed burglar's tools.

Details on what happened to the getaway driver were unavailable.

Cichocki said he hopes the arrest will put an end to the thefts from his trucks.

"I've spoken with the company that makes the safes to see if they can do anything. We've been serving the community forever, and it's getting to the point where we'll have to have our customers come here and pick up their orders," he said.

Camellia is located on the 1300 block of Genesee Street. It was established by Cichocki's grandfather, Edmund, in 1937 and employs about 40 workers.

e-mail: lmichel@buffnews.com

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