A man was arrested after attempting to steal cigarettes and candy from the Walgreens on East Broadway, Columbia Police Department spokesman Jessie Haden said.
Boone County Sheriff’s Department deputies were dispatched at about 7 a.m. Saturday after receiving a call about a disturbance at the store.
The call was from a 24-year-old clerk who had been working the front register. The clerk reported a suspicious man who walked into the store and picked up two bottles of wine. He said it then appeared the man was going to use the bottles to hit the clerk.
The clerk told investigators he was frightened, jumped over the counter and went to the back of the store to call 911. During this time, the suspect stole Marlboro cigarettes and M&Ms.
“We are thankful the clerk didn’t get hurt and did the right thing by calling 911 immediately,” Haden said. “We always tell people if someone is trying to rob you, let them take your stuff, because you can always get more stuff.”
When the police arrived, the suspect had fled the scene. Another man at the scene knew the suspect and identified him as Gary Roberts. Haden said he was also able to identify Roberts' car, a gray Ford Tempo.
The police then set out to look for Roberts and were unsuccessful. About an hour later, the police received a call about a suspicious person.
Haden also said an officer then matched the gray Ford Tempo, which was parked by a trailer in front of the Petromart on North Stadium Boulevard, with the description of the suspect’s vehicle.
Police found Roberts smoking a cigarette on the porch of the trailer. The officers ordered Roberts to step off the porch, and after Robert refused, they threatened to use a Taser, Haden said. Roberts complied, was put in handcuffs and then transported to the police station.
The police searched Roberts’ car and found the reported stolen items from Walgreens, which were then collected as evidence.
“We were also really thankful that the person who was present (at Walgreens) was cooperative with us,” Haden said. “That information helped us solve this case more quickly.”
Roberts is being charged with first-degree robbery.