NEWPORT, Maine — A Dixmont couple was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged with two pharmacy robberies in Newport.
The couple is also suspected in the attempted robbery of a Rite Aid in Pittsfield, said Newport Police Chief Leonard Macdaid on Tuesday.
Jonah Masse, 25, and Sydney Duff, 20, were both arrested and charged with Class B robbery.
They were taken to the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor and are being held on $50,000 cash bail each.
Each time the suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of drugs.
On Tuesday, a man attempted to rob the Rite Aid on Somerset Avenue in Pittsfield, but the pharmacist refused to hand over any drugs.
Newport police could not charge the couple for the attempted robbery because it occurred in Somerset County. However, Macdaid said Pittsfield police assisted in the arrest in Dixmont on Tuesday.
In each case, Masse went into the store to demand the drugs while Duff waited in the getaway car, said Macdaid.
Macdaid said Newport police executed a search warrant on the couple’s home on Tuesday and arrested them at about 3:30 p.m. Pill bottles were recovered at the residence.
The street value of the drugs taken in the two robberies amounted to about $6,000, said Macdaid. Some of the prescription drugs were quite potent.
“The stuff they took, if it got into the wrong hands, they may have been dead. It was strong stuff,” said Macdaid, who added that the pills were stolen for personal use and to sell.
Newport police placed a high priority on solving the two cases for good reason, he said.
“He told us he was not going to stop,” Macdaid said of Masse. “He was going to keep robbing places until he got caught.”
Macdaid praised Lt. Randy Wing for his work on the case. He said Wing spent nearly 80 hours working to solve the two Newport robberies.
“We got some leads and kept working on it and working on it and got enough to arrest them,” said Macdaid.
Testimonial evidence, interviews and physical evidence tied the couple to the robberies, he said.
Although it would take an internal policy change by pharmacies to make a major dent in prescription drug robberies, Macdaid said patrons and employees in pharmacies can make an impact.
“The best thing to do is the people in these stores need to be observant,” said Macdaid. “If anyone is in Rite Aid or a pharmacy or bank, if they see something that’s not right, they need to call 911 right away. With both of these robberies, people saw something wrong, but nobody called until afterwards. We probably could’ve caught him before he left the store [if someone had called immediately].”
Macdaid said U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent Amy Nickerson, the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and Pittsfield and Brewer police departments aided Newport in the investigations.