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NEW BERN—A Calabash man has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for the armed robbery of several Advance Auto Parts stores in coastal North Carolina and South Carolina.
U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced 51-year-old Thomas Lauren Pfoff to 300 months, or 25 years, in prison for his role in the robberies.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Pfoff was convicted of robbing Advanced Auto Parts stores in Shallotte, Wilmington, Conway, S.C., Garden City, S.C., Georgetown, S.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
In each of the armed robberies, Pfoff entered the stores around closing, with a gun and wearing a ski mask, demanding money. In some of the armed robberies, Pfoff forced customers and employees to lie down near the stores safe, as he demanded the manager to open the safe.
Pfoff’s criminal history spans to 1985, when he was convicted of first-degree rape in Baltimore, Md.
After robbing the Shallotte store in October 2005, Pfoff and his getaway driver, Ginger Thornsberry, who was sentenced to 70 months in prison for her role in the robberies in July 2007, were apprehended.
The night of Oct. 26, 2005, “the manager of the Shallotte store, anticipating that his store might be the next robbery victim, stationed himself across the street to watch out for suspicious activity, something he had done for several days after hearing of the robberies of other Advance Auto Parts stores,” a press release states.
After spotting Pfoff exit his vehicle and put on a ski mask, the manager called 911 while the robbery was in progress and followed the getaway vehicle until Shallotte Police officers arrived to make the arrests.
“This case should serve to remind us that real heroes exist among the people we see everyday.
“Authorities were able to bring Mr. Pfoff and Ms. Thornberry to justice because of a store manager who refused to cower to thugs and did everything he could to see to it that they were caught,” U.S. Attorney George Holding said.
“His efforts brought to a halt a crime spree that could have ended with far more victims and even deaths.
“I agree wholeheartedly with the Chief Judge Flanagan’s assessment of this man as a predator, and I am thankful to the store manager who ended his criminal career,” he noted.
The Shallotte Police Department led the investigation, which also included ATF, Wilmington Police Department, Horry County (S.C.) Police Department, Georgetown (S.C.) Police Department and Conway (S.C.) Police Department.