Alabama police have called the suspect “a career burglar.”
It might also be fair to call Joshua Magaul Sanders a tobacco addict: He’s been accused of stealing thousands of dollars in cigarettes. And serving six months in prison following a 2017 conviction for those cigarette heists doesn’t appear to have discouraged him, according to police.
Sanders, 23, was arrested again on Monday — this time on two counts of third-degree burglary — after police say he broke into two Hoover, Alabama, convenience stories earlier this year and made off with cartons of cigarettes.
"It's what he does when he's not locked up,'' Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector told the Birmingham News. "We've dealt with him repeatedly, as have other police departments. Six months in prison is not a deterrent to him."
The two Hoover burglaries Sanders was arrested and charged for Monday occurred at an Exxon station just before 6 a.m. on Jan. 29, and at a Shell station shortly after midnight on March 1, police said.
The crimes were remarkably similar, too: The suspect first shattered the front doors of each gas station to get inside, surveillance video showed. He was wearing dark pants, a hooded sweatshirt, a mask and gloves during each burglary. After he got into the stores, he would pull out a garbage bag to fill with cartons of cigarettes, and toss the cash register on the ground to try to break it open, police said.
After the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office arrested Sanders Monday, Hoover police said he’s the suspect in two other burglaries. He is a resident of Birmingham, police said, which is just north of Hoover.
Sanders was booked at the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham around 1 a.m., according to online jail records. He faces a host of charges in the county, including marijuana possession, burglary and attempting to flee a police officer.
Sanders is being held on $60,000 bond, Hoover police said.
Previously, Sanders was suspected of burglarizing five convenience stores across three Birmingham-area cities in 2015, the Hoover Sun reports. Investigators said they suspect Sanders either was selling or trading off the cigarettes he stole.
Sanders was arrested on Nov. 29, 2015, after police responded to a reported burglary at a Shell station, the Birmingham News reports.
It was a now-familiar scene: The glass front door had been smashed, police said, and the cash register and cigarette cartons had gone missing.
But the suspect — and his bounty — hadn’t made it far. Officers tracked Sanders down in a nearby wooded area, the newspaper reports. A bag stuffed with cigarette cartons and the missing cash register were recovered nearby as well, police said.
Sanders was then arrested, the Hoover Sun reports. Police said they already had a warrant on Sanders — for an earlier burglary at the very same gas station, this one on Nov. 9.
That November alone, police said Sanders stole more than $1,900 in tobacco products from a Chevron station and around $500 worth of cigarettes from a Texaco, according to the Birmingham News.
The statement Hoover police made following Sanders’ 2015 arrest might sound clairvoyant in light of the current accusations Sanders’ faces: “We really hope that he stays locked up for a while because if he's not, then he'll be smashing front doors of convenience stores and stealing cigarettes," Rector told the Birmingham News in 2015.
Sanders pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary charges in May 2017 following the 2015 arrest, according to the newspaper. He was sentenced to 10 years, but with only 18 months to serve. Sanders was released after just six months .