Suspect charged in 3 West St. Paul drugstore heists

  • Updated: January 21, 2014 - 8:53 PM

Jason Lee Arden is accused of robbing three West St. Paul pharmacies at gunpoint in a six-day span that ended when his car was rammed into a snowbank by a police squad car.

Arden, 38, was charged Tuesday in Dakota County District Court with three counts of first-degree aggravated robbery. He is being held in the county jail on $200,000 bail.

A criminal complaint said that police found a handwritten list of prescription medications in Arden’s jacket pocket after he was arrested following the third holdup. During an interview, the document said, he admitted to all three robberies and explained that he brought a list to the third one because he didn’t get the right drugs the first two times.

He told police that the drugs he’d stolen were stored on a relative’s property in Red Wing, Minn. Most of the drugs were recovered when that property was searched, the complaint said.

The robberies started Jan. 9 when a man held up the Target pharmacy at 1750 S. Robert St. and stole narcotics. The gunman repeatedly apologized — “I’m sorry; I’m really sorry” — as the pharmacist filled a black duffel bag with the drugs, the complaint said.

The next day, a CVS pharmacy at 1471 S. Robert St. was robbed of 20 bottles of oxycodone, a painkiller, with 100 pills in each bottle.

On Jan. 14, the store manager at Walgreens, 1133 S. Robert St., saw a man walk into the store who matched the description of the suspect in the previous two robberies. As the man walked toward the pharmacy, the manager called 911. The man robbed the pharmacy counter and left the store.

As the suspect was driving out of the parking lot, officers pushed his car into a snowbank and arrested him.

Arden has been convicted of numerous crimes since the mid-1990s, including theft, drug offenses, assault and disorderly conduct, records show.

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