Cell Phone, Pill Bottles Lead Investigators To Arrest Men In Connection With New York Pharmacy Thefts

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Four Franklin County men are behind bars after a multi-state investigation.

According to investigators, Robert Blythe, Jessie Harris, Michael Hanson and Walter “Chris” Beck, drove hundreds of miles from Columbus to burglarize pharmacies in southern New York.

New York detectives said that the men burglarized the pharmacy to get their hands on morphine patches, Vicadin and oxycodon.

Deputies said that by the time the group burglarized several independent pharmacies in New York, they had stolen $32,000 worth of drugs.

According to investigators, the theft case went cold until a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over 39-year-old Blyth. Inside his vehicle, deputies found a prescription bottle that tracked to New York.

“As detectives, we’re trying to connect that evidence with the break-ins,” Broome County Sheriff David Harder said.

A deputy in New York was looking at surveillance video from one of the pharmacies, and he noticed one of the suspects was using a cell phone, Harder said.

Deputies in New York called for a “tower dump” and collected 3,000 cell phone calls from the cell phone tower nearest a pharmacy that was burglarized. Among the calls were several to Franklin County, Harder said.

Harris was identified as one of the suspects, and when he checked into a hotel near one of the pharmacies that was burglarized, investigators said that he put his cell phone number on an information card.

The number matched a phone number deputies received from the “tower dump,” deputies said.

Harris was arrested while meeting with his parole officer and allegedly implicated the other three men, Harder said.

According to deputies, the suspects went to New York so no one would recognize them. Investigators said that as they drove, they picked pharmacies located in the Yellow Pages.

The suspects are expected to be extradited back to New York by the end of the week.

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