Discount Smokes & Variety on Bartlett Street in Lewiston. Mark LaFlamme/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Police were searching for three girls Friday after a store clerk was assaulted and robbed Thursday night at a Bartlett Street smoke shop.

The clerk said that at about 5 p.m. Thursday, three girls came into the store and attacked her. Two of the attackers wrestled the clerk to the floor, while another jumped over the counter and grabbed several items.

Police responded within minutes of the reported robbery, but the assailants were gone. On Friday, police said they had determined the identities of the attackers, although the three were still being sought later in the afternoon.

The Discount Smokes & Variety store, formerly Albert’s, is at Bartlett and Walnut streets.

The store clerk said the girls – described as minors – had come into the business angry because an older man had bought them the wrong cigar wraps shortly before the assault. When the clerk refused to exchange the wraps, the girls got angry and were told to leave the store.

“That’s when they went down to the counter entrance and started to body-check me trying to get me out of the way,” the clerk said. “I pushed the one girl back and asked again to leave the store, that I was calling 911. That’s when one jumped the counter and the others attacked me. I was pinned down with my shirt pulled up over my head while she continued to hit me, while the others took what they wanted from the store. Then I got her off me by kicking her off and they all ran out the store.”

The clerk was not seriously hurt.

Police were continuing to investigate late Friday afternoon.

Over the past few years, several businesses have reported groups of young people coming into stores, with some distracting clerks while others grab goods before fleeing.

Corner stores have been the main target of the thieves, but so have a few restaurants.

Last November, the 83-year-old owner of Speaker’s Variety on Spruce Street was shoved to the ground, her arm broken, while one her employees scuffled with a group of shoplifters.

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