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Suspect in pharmacy robberies nabbed

- Monday’s victims provided description, license plate number

By MARY BROWNFIELD

Published: September 18, 2009

A MONTEREY man who allegedly robbed the Central Avenue Pharmacy with a handgun Monday and made off with narcotic painkillers is also suspected in four similar crimes in other cities, according to Pacific Grove Police Cmdr. John Nyunt. The suspect, 32-year-old Brennan Tiffany, was arrested at gunpoint in the Safeway parking lot on Forest Hill Wednesday morning, when officers in an unmarked car spotted him.

The robber, wearing sunglasses and a hat, walked up to a clerk at the Pacific Grove pharmacy Monday afternoon and handed her a note reading, “Give me all your Oxycontin. I’m desperate. I have a gun and I’m not afraid to use it,” according to law enforcement and other sources. Nyunt said Tiffany then lifted his shirt, revealing a handgun tucked into the waistband of his pants.

The clerk notified a pharmacist, who unlocked the drugs and handed them over to the robber. When the perpetrator fled in a black SUV, another store clerk followed and managed to get the license plate number, according to Nyunt.

As area police agencies were notified to be on the lookout for the black SUV, Pacific Grove officers gathered information on the crime and examined surveillance video.

“At this point during the investigation, we located a flier from Sand City telling us of a similar robbery, and the suspect matched the suspect in our video,” he said. That robbery occurred several weeks ago, and investigators discovered others had happened in Monterey, Marina and Morgan Hill.

“So we put together a task force very quickly,” Nyunt said, and officers from different Peninsula agencies worked together using their shared database and a state photo library to identify their suspect.

Once they had a name to match the face, they initiated their search. Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, a Pacific Grove detective and a detective from Marina following leads in an unmarked car fortuitously saw Tiffany’s Toyota SUV entering P.G. via Highway 68. They summoned other officers and initiated a felony stop, pulling the car over in the Safeway parking lot and drawing their guns before approaching to arrest the driver.

Tiffany, whose Facebook page shows two smiling, very young children, was taken into custody without incident, and police seized his vehicle and got a warrant to search his house on Cypress Street in Monterey. There, Nyunt reported, they found evidence of the robberies, as well as packing supplies indicating he was sending drugs out of state.

“We found Oxycontin, as well as materials used for shipping,” Nyunt said. “I don’t know what the motivation is, other than monetary.”

Tiffany was taken to Monterey County Jail. Nyunt applauded Peninsula officers for effectively working together and reported federal authorities are also involved in the case, due to the allegation of shipping narcotics across state lines.