FBI helping with Bridgton pharmacy robbery

PC 29 rite aid burglary

THE SUSPECT in a Thanksgiving Day robbery at the Bridgton Rite Aid is shown on a security camera entering the store.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is helping Bridgton Police catch whoever robbed the local Rite Aid Pharmacy of the painkiller Oxycodone on Thanksgiving Day.

Police Chief Kevin Schofield said he talked to the lead investigator at the FBI’s Portland office on Tuesday, bringing him up to date on the “several promising leads” that have arisen since a surveillance photo of the suspected robber was released to the press and posted on the department’s Facebook page.

The image shows a lone man entering the store around 2:15 p.m. wearing sunglasses and a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt. Police say he handed the pharmacist a note demanding Oxycodone, then fled with an undisclosed amount of the drug, a synthetic opiate used for pain. Schofield said police believe the man got into a silver colored sedan being driven by a second suspect, and that the pair fled south on Route 302 toward Naples.

No weapon was displayed during the robbery, said Schofield, who declined to say how much of the drug was taken or what the note said.

What Schofield did say was that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI “have taken a position to want to be involved in these types of cases,” in Maine, which saw a record-setting 56 pharmacy robberies in 2012 — an average of more than once a week. They also want to see pharmacy robbery cases prosecuted in federal court, which offers stiffer penalties and could provide some deterrent in what has become “a very serious situation” in Maine, Schofield said.

“Like any serious felony case, there’s always an opportunity for federal involvement, and (if the suspect(s) are caught), there’s a high likelihood that we’d work to have the case prosecuted in federal court,” Schofield said.

FBI assistance in investigating pharmacy robberies is an initiative that is unique to Maine, which has one of the lowest crime rates in the United States. There have been fewer pharmacy robberies this year than in 2012, said Schofield, who did not have an exact number.

The city of Augusta has been particularly hit hard this year, with nine pharmacy robberies, more than any other town or city. An intergovernmental agreement was made between the FBI and Augusta law enforcement to have those cases tried in U.S. District Court in Bangor, and the first federal sentencing was scheduled Tuesday in one of those robberies. The woman faced 41 to 51 months in federal prison.

Schofield asks anyone who believes they may have information about the Rite Aid robbery to contact the Bridgton Police Department at 647-8815, ext. 105.

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