Police: Repeat pharmacy thief caught in sticky situation

Credit: Tony Burbeck

Where the suspect came through roof for the first robbery


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC


Posted on March 1, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 3:38 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A man who police say broke into the same pharmacy four times over the last six weeks on Albemarle Road has been arrested.

Richard Rivera, 34, has been charged with three counts each of felony breaking and entering and larceny, plus one count of possessing burglary tools.

Police arrested Rivera Thursday covered in tar while hiding in a bathroom inside the Family Care Pharmacy.  Investigators say he tried to cut through the roof but ended up kicking in a door.

"I'm so glad he tried the fourth time," said pharmacy owner Ankit Patel. "The other three times he was able to walk away without being caught or being seen on camera."

Police say the first time, Rivera cut through the roof and stole more than $30,000 in various prescription pain and detoxification pills, plus pregnancy testing items.

The second time, police say Rivera cut through the pharmacy's front glass doors.  Patel says only glass cutting tools could have caused that damage and the glass was too strong to be kicked in.

The third time, police say Rivera broke in through the roof again.

Patel started installing reinforced doors, window covers and more cameras after the first break-in, but he says Rivera was still able to break in because the upgrades weren't finished.

By in Thursday's alleged break-in, the security upgrades were finished and the roof access had been patched.

Police say Rivera ended up covered in tar while trying his luck on the roof again, but ended up kicking in a door.  An alarm notified police and they caught Rivera hiding in a bathroom.

Patel, once again called out to a crime scene, looked in the police car and saw a familiar face. He says Rivera has been coming to the pharmacy since 2011 and was still picking up regular prescriptions for his wife.

"He was coming on and off to get the prescriptions and call and ask how many refills she has and when to pick it up, so he was in and out quite often every month," Patel said.

Police say they are still trying to determine if Rivera used the stolen prescription pills or sold them.

Rivera is in the Mecklenburg County jail under $47,500 bond. It's not known if he has an attorney.