MACON, Ga. — The Bibb County Sheriff's Office is looking for a man who's stolen alcohol from several different stores in east Macon.
Alpesh Patel, owner of the Texaco Food Mart at 4476 Ocmulgee East Boulevard, said the same man has stolen or tried to steal from his store at least five different times. He said that man has made off with $1,500 in stolen merchandise since his first appearance on January 9th.
That instance he stole beer, thermal shirts, and oil.
"He just got two or three cases of Modelos, put it on the counter. My employee was there, 'Sir, you've got to pay for this, pay for this,' 'Oh, I'll be right back, be right back,'" Patel said.
After the second time, Patel installed a magnetic lock and began locking the door at night. The thief got smart and had someone pose as a customer to get inside. Once that person leaves, he runs up to the door and props it open. He then proceeds to steal multiple cases of beer -- one incident report said 10 at one time.
Patel has begun locking up his beer with chains and a wooden plank after dark, in case the thief shows up.
"If you look at my beer cooler right now, because of him, we have our beer cooler empty because we don't want to stock too much stuff in there because we don't know what he's gonna do," Patel said. "And because of him, we have to close our beer at about 9:00 and don't open until about 7:00," Patel said.
Patel knows who that thief is. Michael Cornelius has been terrorizing stores in east Macon for nearly a month. Because of his constant thefts, two of Patel's employees have quit.
"And my employees are so scared and they don't come outside, and that's a good thing, but they are so scared they don't even want to work at nighttime," Patel said. "As of Monday, I'm working 18 hours a day."
One cashier at the Circle K across the street from Patel said she's a witness to Cornelius' beer thefts as well and Thunderbird Liquor and Package said they've also been victimized.
"The police are doing their jobs right now, but they can't," said Neal Patel of Thunderbird. "It's hard to find this kind of person, but we don't need this person outside."
Cornelius has a long rap sheet. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, he was convicted of stalking, aggravated assault, and involvement with cocaine. A warrant was signed for his arrest on Tuesday.
Alpesh Patel said the situation has been frustrating.
"It's very frustrating, because we work hard every single day. We try to see how can we earn money to feed our family," Patel said. "It makes it so much harder, we cannot concentrate on other things."
If you have information of Cornelius' whereabouts, you can contact the Bibb County Sheriff's Office at 478-751-7500.