EAST PEORIA — In what might be a first for the Tri-County Area, an Indiana man and another, unknown person allegedly robbed the East Peoria Walgreens at gunpoint last weekend, stealing an unknown amount of prescription opioid pills.
The robbery appears to be the latest by a "crew" that holds up drug stores for prescription pills in Indiana, Illinois and South Carolina, according to court records.
East Peoria Police Chief Dick Ganschow said he hasn't heard of another incident where a person entered a store and stole only opioids. A computer inquiry of other departments returned no reports of any similar incidents.
The robbery occurred at about 4:45 a.m. Saturday at the store, located at 300 N. Main St., when two men entered and asked to use the restroom, which was locked. A manager went back to unlock the restroom for one of the men. One of the men, allegedly Valentino Smith, 20, of Indianapolis, came back to the front of the store and pointed a gun at the clerk, according to an affidavit filed in Tazewell County Circuit Court on Monday.
Smith allegedly led the clerk back to the pharmacy, where the other suspect was ordering the employees to open a drug safe. The clerk was then led to the bathroom. Inside was the manager, who had his hands bound. The clerk's hands were then bound and she was also put into the bathroom, the police chief said.
The other suspect, who hasn't been arrested, specifically ordered employees to give him Oxycontin, Hydrocodone and Percocet pills. An employee was able to signal to a customer that they were being robbed and the customer called police, the chief said.
No one was injured, he said.
Officers arrived after the men had fled. Witnesses called police about a man running north on Main Street. Officers found Smith at the Burger King on North Main, which is about a mile north of Walgreens. He was arrested without incident.
Smith had in his possession a loaded 9mm handgun, the chief said. On his leg was an ankle monitor covered in foil. Later, Smith allegedly told officers he was on pre-trial release from Marion County, Ind. Court records show he has pending felony cases involving drugs and theft.
Smith has since been charged in Tazewell County Circuit Court with armed robbery and aggravated kidnappings, felonies that carry a possible 30-year prison term.
"We got lucky and it appears they got separated," the chief said of Smith's quick arrest. "We don't know where their vehicle was, but it might have been up on the hill."
According to court records, a detective from Alton, Ill., interviewed Smith, who then admitted he was part of a "robbery crew" that hit CVS and Walgreens stores in three states to get prescription pills.
Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @andykravetz.