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Police probe Walgreens ‘telephone robberies’

Updated: January 1, 2013 6:33AM

Police in Naperville and St. Charles on Thursday continued their investigations into two bizarre and apparently related robberies of Walgreens stores, in which store employees were threatened by telephone before surrendering prescription narcotics to men who came to their pharmacy drive-through windows on foot.

The first holdup occurred about 12:06 a.m. Monday at the Walgreens at 63 W. 87th St. on Naperville’s far south side. That was followed by the 9:35 p.m. Monday robbery of the Walgreens at 2751 E. Main St. in St. Charles.

Naperville police Sgt. Lou Cammiso on Thursday said officers were called to the 24-hour Walgreens in that city by a store employee, likely a pharmacist or pharmacy technician.

Cammiso said the worker told police “a male caller called to the pharmacy and demanded the employee take all the Oxycodone pills they had, place them in a bag and wait at the drive-through window.” The employee quoted the caller as ending the conversation with the words, “Or I’ll hurt you really bad,” Cammiso said.

The worker did as instructed, and a man shortly thereafter walked up to the drive-through window, Cammiso said. He escaped with a bag containing 1,200 Oxycodone pills with an estimated value of $4,000, he said.

Oxycodone is a narcotic analgesic prescibed to treat severe pain.

Cammiso said the caller implied he had an accomplice inside the store, to ensure the employee complied with his orders. The worker “felt that there might have been another suspect in the store, but we have nothing to verify that,” Cammiso said.

A K-9 unit was sent to the area following the 911 call. The dog and its handler “did a track that met with negaive results,” Cammiso said.

The store’s outdoor video surveillance cameras recorded a “poor-quality” tape of the robbery that proved to be of little or no help to investigators, Cammiso said. He added no weapon was mentioned or displayed during the holdup.

St. Charles police on Thursday issued a terse bulletin concerning the robbery in that city. It indicated the crime bore similarities to the one in Naperville.

Employees told police a man called the pharmacy and said someone carrying a gun was inside the store and watching its workers, according to the bulletin. The caller ordered the employee who answered the phone to put pills containing a controlled substance into a bag and put it at the drive-through window. The bag was then picked up, reputedly by an accomplice.

The bulletin indicated Naperville police were investigating a similar incident. Cammiso confirmed the St. Charles robbery was similar to the one in Naperville.

St. Charles police did not provide a description of the robber. Cammiso said the man in the Naperville holdup was described only as a white man wearing an older man’s-style hat with ear covers and a dark, long-sleeved coat that might have been green in color.

Witnesses to the robberies or those who believe they have information about either case were asked to call Naperville police at 630-420-6006, or St. Charles police at 630-377-4435.

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