BETHEL – In addition to chasing leads, police Thursday were seeking the public’s help to solve the St. Patrick’s Day burglary and theft of about $4,000 in narcotic drugs from Bethel’s Rite Aid pharmacy.

Police Chief Alan Carr said early Thursday evening that the crime may be linked to other burglaries and thefts at pharmacies across Maine.

“It may be one and the same with those others,” Carr said.

More than 5,000 prescription narcotic pills worth about $20,000 were stolen on Jan. 25 from the Rite Aid pharmacy in Livermore Falls.

Like the Bethel burglary, a rear drive-through window was pried open.

On Dec. 5, 2008, more than 6,000 narcotic pills were stolen from the Rangeley Pharmacy on Main Street.

The Livermore Falls Rite Aid pharmacy was also burglarized on Aug. 31, 2004, when 5,000 painkillers were stolen. No one has been charged in that case.

The Bethel crime happened shortly before 11:11 p.m. March 17. That’s when Bethel Patrolman George Gould was alerted by an Oxford County dispatcher to an alarm was sounding at the store.

Carr said Gould, who was on nearby Parkway headed toward Main Street at the time, made a U-turn and rushed to the store, which is on Route 2 across from Parkway.

Gould arrived within a minute but the thief or thieves had fled.

Entry was gained through the rear drive-through window, Carr said.

Maine State Police Trooper Adam Fillebrown and his dog Caro, Trooper Jason Wing and Sgt. Donald Shead assisted and helped secure the scene, according to Carr and state police Lt. Walter Grzyb.

Carr said Caro tracked the thief to the parking lot at the Pat’s Pizza restaurant across the street, where the chief said he believes the burglar had a waiting car.

Fresh tire marks leaving the lot were found, Grzyb said.

Citing the ongoing investigation, Carr said he couldn’t specify what was taken but said the drugs were valued at about $3,800.

To help Bethel police, call 824-3437.

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