AUBURN – Police arrested a Lewiston man Wednesday and charged him with robbing a Main Street convenience store just hours after he was released from jail.

Daniel Ruffin, 43, is accused of using a handgun to rob a clerk at the Big Apple in Auburn early Wednesday morning. The clerk was not hurt.

Police said Ruffin was identified almost immediately after investigators reviewed a store surveillance tape shortly after the stickup was reported. Patrol officers recognized Ruffin from earlier dealings, police said.

Auburn and Lewiston police using a tracking dog could not find the suspect immediately after the 12:30 a.m. heist. So, investigators waited until Wednesday afternoon when Ruffin was scheduled to appear for a court ordered appointment on Park Street in Lewiston. When he showed up for the Maine Pre-trial Services appointment, he was arrested.

Ruffin was charged with robbery, reckless conduct and violating conditions of release. Police said he had been freed from the Androscoggin County Jail Tuesday afternoon where he had been serving time from a previous robbery.

Investigators said Ruffin walked into the Big Apple shortly after midnight Wednesday while there were three other customers in the store.

He shopped for items and then used the store microwave oven while waiting for the customers to leave, police said.

When the store was clear, police say Ruffin pulled out a small caliber handgun and ordered the clerk to hand over cash. The man behind the counter gave Ruffin an undisclosed amount of money, police said.

Investigators said Ruffin then ordered the store clerk to lie on the floor. Once Ruffin was out of the store, the clerk called police.

Several cops were on scene within minutes. Police waited outside and called for a tracking dog. They also called the store clerk and instructed him to leave the store so as not to contaminate the crime scene.

A dog from the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department sniffed around the store and then led police to a home on Newbury Street. A man there said he had visited the store earlier but he did not fit the description of the robbery suspect, police said.

Lewiston police covered their side of the foot trestle as the dog then led investigators to Bonney Park, behind the Big Apple.

Meanwhile, police reviewed a surveillance tape that showed customers coming and going from the store. Auburn police officer Matt Tufts was told the suspect was identified as Ruffin, a Lewiston man with prior robbery convictions.

Auburn and Lewiston police went to Ruffin’s home at 101 Birch St. but did not find their suspect. Ruffin remained at large until he showed up for his appointment on Main Street at about 1:15 p.m., police said.

He remained at the Androscoggin County Jail Wednesday night.

In 1992, Ruffin drew a seven year prison sentence for robbing a store in downtown Lewiston. Police said he has other convictions for similar crimes.

It was unknown Wednesday night whether or not a gun or the money was recovered.

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