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Monday, 19 May 2014 09:57

Chemist robbers face GPS tracking

Written by Nick Farrell

One hard-up robber shot dead already

Drug crazed robbers trying to take out chemist shops are finding that their own life expectancy curtailed by the use of GPS gear. The cops are sticking GPS devices in a decoy pill bottle and, in a raid, a robber is unable to open every bottle so they pick up the decoy and take it back to their lair, closely followed by an armed response team.

Already an armed man suspected of robbing a pharmacy on Friday afternoon is on a mortuary slab after being cornered by cops with a GPS device on him. He had been looking for Viagra rather than painkillers, but there was a decoy bottle amongst what he stole. The decoy bottle was among a cache of drugs taken in an armed robbery about 1:30 p.m. from HealthSource Pharmacy, at Second Avenue and East 68th Street.

Scott Kato, 45, of Mount Vernon, N.Y., was believed to have robbed pharmacies in New York City on at least four occasions since 2011, three times at the HealthSource drugstore. He served about 12 years in prison for a 1990 conviction for sexual abuse and robbery and spent an additional 16 months in prison after violating parole twice. The GPS device helped lead the police to the man. The episode is the first known case in New York City in which a decoy bottle helped the police identify a suspect after a pharmacy robbery.

Decoy bottles have been around for some time. They were introduced last year by the police commissioner at the time, Raymond W. Kelly. The idea was in response to a sharp increase of armed and often deadly pharmacy robberies across the state, frequently by people addicted to painkillers. The plan was publicised with the idea that the news could deter prospective robbers. The bottles are weighted and to rattle when shaken, so a thief does not initially realize they do not contain pills. Each of the decoy bottles sits atop a special base, and when the bottle is lifted from the base, it begins to emit a tracking signal.

It was not clear what types of pills had been stolen from HealthSource on Friday, but the police said they believed that Viagra and Cialis, both medications for erectile dysfunction, were taken in one of the other robberies in which they suspected the same man. What a way to go, shot for trying to get it up.

Nick Farrell

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