AUGUSTA — A Dresden man has been charged in connection with a pair of pharmacy robberies this week at a Western Avenue supermarket.
Ryan McLaughlin, 26, was arrested initially by FBI agents in southern Maine at 12:25 a.m. Thursday on unrelated warrants, but later was hit with federal robbery charges in connection with robberies on Monday and Wednesday at the Osco pharmacy in Shaw’s on Western Avenue, Deputy Chief Jared Mills, of the Augusta police, said in a release.
He is being held at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.
The two robberies happened at 12:25 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday. The description of the suspect and the crimes in each case were identical. In both cases, police said he passed a note to employees, got drugs and fled on foot.
A police dog tracked him to nearby parking lots, but eventually lost the scent both days. Mills also said the writing on the Wednesday note was “similar, if not identical” to the note the suspect handed the employee on Monday.
Mills said police identified McLaughlin based on tips from the public. One person emailed the Kennebec Journal on Thursday identifying McLaughlin by name as the person depicted in a security photo from the Wednesday robbery. The newspaper forwarded that tip, and another one naming a different person, to police.
The Wednesday robbery was the third pharmacy robbery in Augusta this year and the 10th statewide. Last year, Augusta was the location of nine of the state’s 54 pharmacy robberies, the most of any city or town.
The pharmacy at the Augusta Shaw’s had never been robbed before Monday; then it was hit twice in 48 hours, to the minute. After the Wednesday robbery, Augusta police said they would station an officer at Shaw’s over the next few days, and the store had taken steps to beef up security.
In both cases, company spokesman Steve Sylven said employees followed company protocol. He said pharmacies at other Shaw’s locations in New England have not been robbed recently.