The Catawba County Sheriff's Office is looking for an unknown suspect who broke into a store and stole cash from a Conover store.
An employee from the Dollar General on N.C. 16 North in Conover arrived at work Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. and discovered something wasn't right.
"She came in that morning and noticed the alarm wasn't working," said Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid.
The employee walked to the store's office area, which was ransacked and covered in muddy footprints. That's when she called the sheriff's office.
The store was last secure at 9:50 p.m., according to an incident report. That means the crime happened some time between about 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., Reid said.
Deputies arrived on the scene and discovered the thief stole the store's audio and video security recordings, so there is no video evidence of the incident.
The thief also allegedly caused $2,000 in damage by cutting telephone wires outside the store. Reid said the wires were connected to Dollar General's alarm system.
According to an incident report, the thief used a hammer to break open the store's safe and stole an undisclosed sum of cash that was kept inside. Damage to the store's safe is estimated at $200.
Deputies continue to investigate how the thief broke into the building, because there were no signs of forced entry on the building's exterior.
Officers, however, did find signs of forced entry on the inside of the store's door leading to the back entrance, Reid said. There were pry marks on a bar across the door, causing officials to think the suspect was locked inside the store.
"(The unknown suspect) might have been waiting inside," Reid said.
That theory explains why there were no signs of forced entry on the outside of the building. Reid said no Dollar General employees are suspects in the incident.
Because the thief appeared to know about the store and its security measures, Reid said it's possible the perpetrator visited the store in the past or had other experience with its security measures.
No injuries were reported.
There are no suspects, and without security footage, the only clue in the incident is the dirty footprints left behind in the store's office.
If located, the suspect faces charges of breaking and entering, larceny and safecracking.