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Police use GPS device hidden in pill bottle to track drug thieves

Philadelphia police say they may have captured the gunmen responsible for more than a dozen robberies of area pharmacies since last December.

Detectives are confident, at least, that they have in custody the two men who knocked off the Rite Aid at 8130 Roosevelt Blvd. on Monday night. Cops made the arrests with the help of a GPS device hidden inside a bottle of pills allegedly stolen by the suspects.

William Webb, 50, address unknown, was formally charged on Wednesday with 16 counts of robbery, aggravated assault, possessing drugs with intent to distribute, possessing an instrument of crime, weapons violations, conspiracy and related offenses. His alleged co-conspirator, Edward Schaeffer, 29, address unknown, was awaiting a court arraignment on Wednesday afternoon.

According to a published report, Monday’s heist occurred at about 9:30 p.m. and the gunmen fled with a unspecified quantity of prescription medications.

In light of a recent rash of robberies involving several Rite Aid locations and other pharmacies, the store planted a global-positioning system inside a pill bottle that a clerk gave to the bandits.

Police soon picked up a signal from the device and tracked the suspects as they allegedly drove a getaway car southbound on Roosevelt Boulevard and stopped at the rear of a house on Torresdale Avenue near Unruh Street, the published report said, citing a police source.

Officers arrested Webb and Schaeffer at the scene and reportedly recovered the stolen medications, along with two handguns.

For months, detectives have been appealing for the public’s help in solving a series of similar robberies involving other Rite Aid locations, along with other pharmacies and businesses.

In October, Rite Aid announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprits.

Prior robbery locations and dates include QRX Pharmacy, 7063 Castor Ave. (Dec. 10); Holmesburg Pharmacy, 8039 Frankford Ave. (Dec. 22); CVS, 7350 Oxford Ave. (Jan. 8 and Aug. 6); Circle Pharmacy, 2853 Holme Ave. (Jan. 25); 7-Eleven, 1435 Cottman Ave. (Feb. 25); CVS, 8525 Frankford Ave. (Feb. 26); Rite Aid, 2503 Welsh Road (May 14 and May 21); Rite Aid, 6363 Frankford Ave. (June 11); Rite Aid, 8445 Frankford Ave. (June 23); Rite Aid, 7941 Oxford Ave. (July 4); Rite Aid, 327 N. Chester Pike, Glenolden (Sept. 4); and Rite Aid, 12311 Academy Road (Sept. 29).

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