By Josh Akeman
Jones Pharmacy on Hwy 85 in Fayetteville is short some inventory thanks to a very familiar looking burglary early Monday morning. Around 4:45 a.m., Fayetteville police responded to an alarm call at the pharmacy and found that the drive through window had been broken out, and inside found pill bottles scattered around the floor, according to Fayetteville Police Detective Mike Whitlow.
A similar break-in happened nearly a year ago, in March. Around the same time in the morning on March 14, 2012 officers responded to an alarm at Jones Pharmacy and found the drive through window broken open, a crow bar laying on the ground beneath it. At the time, the establishment's owner, Ralph Balchin, said the robber made off with some schedule II narcotics, chiefly painkillers including hydrocodone and oxycodone.
In last year's incident, Balchin says the perpetrator made more of a mess, rifling through more sections of the inventory shelves before making off with the pain killers. He commented at the time that it was "not clear whether he was just grabbing randomly or came with a shopping list."
This time, Balchin says the robber was in and out in about a minute and found what they were looking for much more quickly. The similarities of the crimes suggest it may have been the same perpetrator.
"I don't want to make that assumption," Balchin said, but added that the similarities in point of entry and type of merchandise taken make it "look pretty obvious."
Detective Whitlow says that officers brought in a canine unit to try to track the suspect. He says the dog led officers from Jones Pharmacy over to Kathi Avenue to a parking lot near some apartments. Whitlow said that the fact that the dog stopped tracking in the parking lot suggests the subject left from a car parked there.
Video surveillance was available in both instances, but Balchin isn't so confident that the perpetrator will be tracked down.
"In my thought process, we'll probably be lucky if we find them," Balchin says. In terms of added security, Balchin said the property is already well lit at night but that has not proven enough of a deterrent, so he will have to take more steps.