BANGOR, Maine — A Rite Aid pharmacy employee slipped a GPS unit into the drugs given to a man who threatened violence when he robbed the Union Street drugstore Sunday afternoon, Susan Pope, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, said Monday at his first court appearance.
Jeffrey Macy, 46, of Eastbrook was caught within minutes of the 3:50 p.m. Rite Aid robbery — the second of three pharmacy robberies reported Sunday in the Bangor area in just over an hour’s time.
The robber or robbers of the other two pharmacies — the Rite Aid on Wilson Street in Brewer and the Hannaford grocery store on Union Street in Bangor — have not been arrested.
Bangor police used the GPS signal to track Macy, who was driving a 1995 gold Pontiac Bonneville, onto Bangor Municipal Golf Course, where he unsuccessfully attempted to get away by driving around the 17th and 18th fairways. He eventually crashed into police and was arrested.
Macy was charged with five felonies — including Class A robbery, which carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison — and five misdemeanor charges.
Macy handed a note to the pharmacist demanding drugs and said he had a weapon, according to Pope. He also threatened the woman twice, saying that “she needed to be careful,” the prosecutor told District Court Judge Gregory Campbell.
The other felony charges against Macy are possession of scheduled drugs, criminal threatening, aggravated criminal mischief and trafficking in prison contraband. The misdemeanor charges are refusing to submit to arrest, operating under the influence of alcohol, refusing to stop for a police officer, possession of scheduled drugs, and an outstanding warrant, Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said in a statement late Sunday.
Macy’s blood alcohol level was 0.13 percent when he was arrested, Pope said. The legal limit to operate a vehicle in Maine is 0.08 percent.
Campbell set Macy’s bail at $50,000 cash or $200,000 surety Monday afternoon during his first court appearance at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Pope requested the high cash bail because Macy’s criminal history dates back to 1987 and includes convictions for drug trafficking, assault and operating under the influence of intoxicants.
Macy, through Bangor attorney Benjamin Fowler, told Campbell that he could not afford the high bail.
“This is a very serious charge and Mr. Macy has an extensive criminal record,” the judge responded. “The Bangor area recently has been plagued with these drug-related robberies from Rite Aid pharmacies. It is important that people understand these kinds of robberies result in serious charges and a high bail.”
Pharmacy robberies in Maine, which were virtually nonexistent several years ago, have increased dramatically over the last four years, jumping from just two in 2008 to 24 last year.
The three pharmacy holdups in Bangor and Brewer on Sunday mark the 41st, 42nd and 43rd such robberies or attempted robberies in the state this year — almost double last year’s figure with three months still to go for 2012. Rite Aid, which has 79 stores in Maine, has been hit by robbers numerous times this year .
“The situation in Maine is an anomaly for us,” Rite Aid spokeswoman Ashley Flower said Monday. “There is a great deal of concern.”
Rite Aid has invested “millions and millions of dollars in technology and safety measures” at its stores in Maine and elsewhere, she said, and the incidence of robberies in other parts of the country has decreased. But the situation in Maine is just the opposite, she added.
Each Rite Aid pharmacy has robbery protocols in place and employees work closely with local law enforcement whenever holdups occur, according to Flower.
“We have a variety of measures in place … to provide an environment that is safe for our employees to work and for customers to shop,” she said in May when discussing the high incidence of robberies at Rite Aid pharmacies in Maine.
“We do take these robberies very seriously — each and every one,” Flower said Monday.
She declined to discuss the specifics of any security measures in use by company employees — including the GPS device used Sunday — but did say, “There is not a one-size-fits-all solution.”
Police continue to investigate the two unsolved pharmacy robberies reported Sunday afternoon — one at the Rite Aid on Wilson Street at 3:45 p.m. and the other at the Union Street Hannaford pharmacy, reported at 5:05 p.m.
“They’re working on identifying suspects,” Bangor police Sgt. Ed Potter said Monday afternoon. “It’s not over yet. There is more to be done.”
The Brewer Rite Aid was robbed by a white man man in his 30s described as 5 feet, 6 inches tall with an average build and wearing a blue hooded jacket, Deputy Chief Jason Moffitt of the Brewer police said Sunday.
The robbery of the Hannaford pharmacy was recorded on video surveillance cameras. The robber is described as a white man in his mid-30s, with salt-and-pepper hair and no facial hair, a Bangor police officer said.
Police believed the man, who was wearing a blue sweatshirt and an orange hat, left in a purple Chevy Malibu or Chevy Cobalt. He gave the pharmacy clerk a note saying he had a gun and wanted oxycodone.
The similarities in the descriptions of the robbers of the Bangor Hannaford and the Brewer Rite Aid led police to consider the possibility that both crimes were committed by the same man, Moffitt said.
“We don’t know if [they are] related,” he said Monday. “We’re looking at all the possibilities.”