Cops probe armed robbery at Hicksville pharmacy

A man wearing a surgical mask stole between 10 and 15 bottles of narcotics from a Hicksville pharmacy Monday morning after putting a gun to an employee's head, officials said. Handout. (July 5, 2013)

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Nassau County police released a surveillance video Friday that officials said showed a man wearing a surgical mask who stole between 10 and 15 bottles of narcotics from a Hicksville pharmacy Monday morning after putting a gun to an employee's head.

The suspect entered Harry's Pharmacy at 333 S. Broadway at 9:50 a.m., walked behind the counter and, at gunpoint, ordered the 44-year-old male employee to hand over oxycodone, Nassau County police and store employees said.

The male robber, dressed in a yellow raincoat, blue jeans and blue baseball cap, forced the employee to an unlocked cabinet where the narcotics are kept and made him kneel down as the suspect took the pill bottles and placed them in a white bucket with blue lettering, said Kavitha Kondapally, whose husband, Harry Vutukuri, owns the store.

The man, who police estimate to be between 25 and 30 years old, seemed to know exactly where to find the narcotics, prompting employees to believe he is one of their customers, she said.

A female employee was in the restroom and walked out during the robbery. The suspect pointed the gun at her and said, "Stand right there," Kondapally said.

"Of course, they were scared," she said. "Anyone who has a gun pointed at them gets scared."

After taking the pill bottles, the suspect "coolly walked" out of the store, Kondapally said. He left on foot, northbound on Broadway toward Roosevelt Street, police said. Authorities recovered a pill bottle around the corner, Kondapally said.

There were no customers in the store at the time and no one was injured, police said.

Employees at the pharmacy said high-profile, fatal drugstore robberies on Long Island in recent years have spurred them to limit the narcotics kept on hand.

On Father's Day 2011, four people were shot to death in a Medford drugstore robbery. On New Year's Eve the same year, an off-duty federal agent was killed outside a Seaford pharmacy during a botched robbery.

Kondapally said that she and her husband are considering hiring an armed guard.

The pharmacy reopened late Monday morning. Inside, customers discussed the robbery.

Bobby Nicholas, 57, of Hicksville, came to the pharmacy to pick up his medication but was stopped by police. "I was kind of worried about him and these people," he said, referring to Vutukuri and the store's employees. "He should get an armed guard here because a lot of the pharmacies have one."

Anyone with information is urged to call police anonymously at 800-244-TIPS.

With John Valenti

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