Rock Hill man charged in pharmacy burglaries, Comfort Systems break-in

nsmith@heraldonline.com April 11, 2012 

— Police have arrested a man they say was involved in several burglaries last month at two local pharmacies and an air conditioning company.

Gary Elie Lester, 28, of Rock Hill was arrested Tuesday and charged with four counts of burglary, said Rock Hill Police Lt. Brad Redfearn.

“A very good Crimestoppers tip led to the arrest of this suspect,” he said.

The charges stem from four different incidents last month, two involving Good Pharmacy on Ebenezer Road.

On March 21 about 4:30 a.m., officers responded to the pharmacy after an alarm went off. The front of the building and an interior door were secure, but the attic vent had been removed. Security bars recently installed had been pushed in, the report says.

Surveillance video shows a man walking toward the building with a ladder, which he used to reach the attic vent. Once inside the attic, the burglar tried to lower the access door to climb into the business. However, the access door was rigged with an alarm, and the suspect ran away.

A pair of pliers and a surgical mask were found near the business, and apparently nothing was stolen, police reported.

About a week earlier, more than 1,000 pills were stolen from the same pharmacy. Reported missing were two bottles of Lortab, a bottle of Klonopin, six bottles of a high blood pressure medication and a bottle of Naxproxen.

Less than a week later, a third break in – this time at Carolina Pharmacy on Cherry Road – was reported, and based on a similar suspect description gathered from surveillance footage, police investigated the possibility the two were linked.

About 1 a.m. March 24, officers responded to an alarm at the Carolina Pharmacy, according to a Rock Hill Police report. Officers noticed the two window panes at the pharmacy’s drive-through had been broken, and glass was found on the pavement.

Nothing was reported stolen, the report says, although the window will cost about $150 to replace.

Surveillance footage shows a man dressed in light-colored clothing use a pickaxe to break the drive-through window, eventually crawling through it.

Kia Hicklin, a pharmacist at Good Pharmacy, said she initially thought the suspect in its two burglaries was the same as the one at Carolina Pharmacy.

Dealing with the aftermath of the crimes was not a fun experience, she said.

“We’re very happy it seems to be over now,” he said.

Vipul Patel, owner of Carolina Pharmacy, said he is grateful police have arrested a suspect.

“It puts a lot of people in the pharmacy world at ease,” he said. “We’re always on our toes as it is, but when someone’s been broken into three or four times, it worries us and our staff. I’m glad that it was resolved pretty quickly.”

Lester also is accused of breaking into Comfort Systems Inc. on White Street last month, stealing 10 bottles of Freon, 12 thermostats, a server system and several power tools, according to reports.

The stolen items were worth about $7,850.

Nicole E. Smith 803-329-4068

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