updated 7/31/2007 5:01:12 AM ET 2007-07-31T09:01:12

It wasn’t exactly “Mission: Impossible,” but three burglars managed to break into a grocery store by lowering themselves through a hole in the roof, then eluded the alarm system for two hours by crawling on their stomachs, police said.

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The thieves used a pickax to break open the hole in the roof of the Bi-Lo around 3 a.m. Friday, and climbed down a garden hose to the store’s floor, authorities said.

The men then crawled around for two hours to avoid tripping the motion detectors, Manning Police Chief Randy Garrett said.

They tried unsuccessfully to break into the store safe. An alarm eventually went off, and they ran away with cartons of cigarettes and fistfuls of lottery tickets, police said.

The burglars tried to cash some of the winning tickets at a store about 40 miles away, but the clerk had been told about the theft and refused to cash them, Garrett said.

Investigators have found more tickets thrown out along local roads, Garrett said.

The grocery store’s surveillance cameras captured images of the three men, but the quality of the video was poor, authorities said.

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