Police use technical savvy to make pharmacy robbery arrest

Posted Aug. 17, 2011, at 6:03 p.m.
Sean Higgins
Courtesy photo
Sean Higgins

CAMDEN, Maine — Local police were helped by a GPS tracking device stuck to a pharmacy pill bottle, surveillance cameras and Facebook in catching suspected Rite Aid robber Sean Higgins.

On Aug. 2, the 29-year-old Camden man walked into Rite Aid on Route 1 and handed pharmacists a note demanding drugs, according to a police report by Camden police Sgt. Patrick Polky filed in Knox County Superior Court. Higgins implied “he was holding a pistol inside his right hand under his sweatshirt,” the report states.

The pharmacists gave the robber two bottles of oxycodone and six bottles of Ritalin. Once they were in his hands, Higgins reportedly bolted for the back door of the pharmacy.

“Unknown to the male robber, the pharmacy staff had given him a pill bottle which has a GPS tracking unit inside it. Because of this, Camden police [were] able to track the pill bottle to the rear parking lot of the church on the corner of Free Street and Elm Street,” the court documents state.

The pill bottle was lying in the church parking lot near a rubber glove, and both were collected as evidence.

Rite Aid’s national spokeswoman, Ashley Flower, confirmed Wednesday that these tracking devices are “one of many precautions we use to deter theft” and “they are not in everyday prescriptions.”

Camden officers also obtained surveillance video of the incident from Rite Aid and released images of the robbery suspect to the press. A Knox County Jail staffer called the police on Aug. 4 to say he recognized Higgins from those images.

Police then started interviewing Higgins’ friends. One said that Higgins had called her to say “he was in trouble and needed a ride.” She told officers that she picked Higgins up and saw him with several white pill bottles, according to the police report. She added that he told her “the man [gave] him an extra bottle.”

The woman pulled up Facebook photos of Higgins for police. Police recognized that he was wearing some of the same clothes that the robber wore. They printed off a photo of Higgins, along with a few pictures of random people, and presented them to one of the Rite Aid pharmacists, asking her whether she recognized anyone as the robber.

“[She] immediately picked the photo of Sean Higgins,” Polky wrote.

Higgins was on his way south when he was arrested in Norwich, Conn., on Aug. 6 after police there said he was behaving suspiciously on the street. When an officer questioned Higgins, he reportedly gave evasive answers and then took off on foot. After catching Higgins, Connecticut police discovered that he was wanted in Maine for the alleged robbery.

Higgins recently was brought back to Maine and appeared in Knox County Superior Court on Wednesday. His bail was set at $10,000 cash for the charge of robbery. However, Higgins will remain in Knox County Jail because his bail was revoked for previous drug possession crimes that police say he committed in May.

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