Claremont Robbery Is Latest in Spate of Similar Crimes
Shown in a surveillance photograph, an unidentified man allegedly robbed a Claremont Jiffy Mart on Jan. 16, 2014. He left the store with an undisclosed amount of money. (Courtesy Claremont Police)
Claremont — A convenience store on Maple Avenue was robbed this week, the eighth such incident in the city since October.
Police Chief Alex Scott said the latest robbery occurred around 8:40 p.m. on Thursday when a man entered Jiffy Mart and demanded money from the clerk, who was alone in the store.
Though he claimed to have a gun, no weapon was shown, according to a police statement. The clerk was not injured.
The suspect was wearing a scarf, hooded sweatshirt, ski goggles and a heavy tan jacket. He is described as between 5 foot 8 inches and 5 foot 10 inches tall with a medium build.
Scott said the suspect fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of money and ran behind the Hitching Post restaurant. A state police dog assisted with the search and DNA evidence from the suspect may have been located, Scott said. As of late Friday evening, no arrest had been made.
The store is about a quarter-mile from the scene of an armed robbery at Claremont Savings Bank on Nov. 26.
Scott could not indentify with certainty the cause of the recent spike in robberies, but he noted that in three of the cases in which suspects have been arrested, drug addiction appears to have been a motive.
James Oberfeldt, of Claremont, the suspect in two bank robberies — one in October on Charlestown Road and the second in November on Maple Avenue — was arrested in Massachusetts in December on drug charges and is being held pending his next court appearance on Feb. 6. He had been convicted of selling heroin in Newport in 2012 and was on probation. A Sullivan County grand jury indicted him in December on the bank robberies.
James Perry, arrested hours after he allegedly held up the Jiffy Mart at the corner of North and Elm streets on Dec. 31, used cocaine a day before the robbery and possibly used the money from the robbery to buy crack cocaine, according to a police affidavit.
“They were drug dependent,” Scott said of the suspects. “They needed money to fuel their habit. That plays a huge role for sure.”
Scott also noted these are not problems unique to Claremont.
“If you listened to Gov. (Peter) Shumlin’s address ... you heard him talk of the drug problem in Vermont,” Scott said. “It has hit Lebanon, also.”
A report from Scott to the City Council this month showed just two robberies in 2012 and eight in 2013, with six of coming in the last three months of the year.
Scott said one reported incident last year turned out not to be a robbery. Armed and unarmed robberies are grouped together in the report.
In 2011, there were six robberies in the city.
Meanwhile, Scott’s report to the council showed 35 crimes classified as drug/narcotic violations in 2013, down significantly from 65 such crimes recorded in 2012.
Scott said anyone with information about Thursday night’s Jiffy Mart robbery is asked to contact police.