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Madison Heights

January 24, 2014

Walgreens robber steals cash, cigarettes and cellphones

Police looking for suspect who may have been armed

By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer

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Walgreens robber steals cash, cigarettes and cellphones
Madison Heights police are looking for the suspect seen in this surveillance video footage from the Jan. 5 armed robbery of a Walgreens in Madison Heights.

MADISON HEIGHTS — At press time, police continued to search for a man seen in surveillance footage who robbed a Walgreens and made off with an undisclosed sum of money, as well as cigarette cartons and cellphones.

The incident occurred at the Walgreens at 26800 John R around 9:10 p.m. Jan. 5. Police describe the suspect as a white male, medium build, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and 175 pounds, with brown eyes. He was wearing a black ski mask and all-black clothing, including a black hoodie with the hood up.

The suspect approached the store clerk from behind, pressing an unknown object — implied to be a gun —  into her back. He made her move into the manager’s office. There, he confronted the manager and another employee.

“He held her as a hostage, as a human shield,” said Madison Heights Police Lt. Robert Anderson. “In the video, he’s very forceful with her, throwing her around like a ragdoll. In my eyes, it’s a very violent robbery.”

The suspect instructed his hostages to give him all of the money in the store, and to hand over their personal cellphones. He ordered them to cut the phone lines so they couldn’t call for help and provided a knife to one of the employees, who did as the suspect instructed. The suspect proceeded to clear out the safe, and then told his hostages to not leave the backroom for 10 minutes.

At this point, he took his human shield — the clerk from the front of the store — back to the sales floor and demanded that she fill  garbage bags with cigarette cartons.

“He cleaned the place out of cigarettes,” Anderson said. “This all took place while the place remained open. It’s a very brazen robbery, and he spent quite a few minutes up front making sure (the clerk) filled the garbage bags with every cigarette carton the store had in their possession. I think the only thing that culled any traffic that day was the fact that day was the day of ‘snow-mageddon,’ the blizzard.”

Once the bags were full, the suspect told the clerk to go in the women’s restroom and wait there for 10 minutes. He then fled the store, leaving the lot in a dark-colored two-door vehicle. The two store employees and the manager were all unharmed.

It doesn’t appear that any of them ever actually saw a gun; the clerk felt something hard pressed against her back but didn’t see a weapon, Anderson said.

That same night, Warren had a robbery at a hotel in the area of I-696 and Dequindre, where the suspect jumped the counter, wearing a gray hoodie.

“The clothing is a bit different, but we’re looking at the possibility of this being the same guy,” Anderson said.

Police in Madison Heights also continue to investigate a breaking and entering that occurred shortly before Christmas, at the Belle Tire at 28501 Dequindre around 7 a.m. Dec. 22. The suspect, seen on surveillance footage, was a white man wearing a dark knit cap, a blue jacket, long jean shorts and white shoes.

He broke into the store by prying open the bay door and then proceeded to steal an undisclosed amount of money from the register in the sales area. 

He doesn’t appear to be the same suspect from the Walgreens case, though. 

“It’s a common type of crime, unfortunately. Not necessarily in Madison Heights, but throughout anywhere — break in, and take what’s in the register,” Anderson said. “It’s never a large amount of money, though; just enough to start up the next day.”

If you know something about the robberies at Walgreens or Belle Tire, call the Madison Heights Police Department at (248) 585-2100.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski at akozlowski@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1104.