Affidavit: Man admitted pharmacy heists to wife

Joel Crawford

A Grand Junction man suspected of stealing painkillers at gunpoint at two Grand Junction-area pharmacies confessed the robberies to his wife, according to an arrest affidavit.

Moreover, Joel David Crawford, 54, is being investigated for possible involvement in at least one more armed robbery Aug. 2 at a Safeway pharmacy in Glenwood Springs.

Crawford’s wife told detectives she couldn’t positively identify her husband as the suspect in the Glenwood Springs incident, but said she was “100 percent sure” Crawford was responsible for the Jan. 28 robbery of Walgreens, 572 32 Road, and the March 31 robbery of Rite Aid, 2992 F Road.

Prosecutors filed 14 charges Wednesday in connection with the incidents. Crawford was arrested last week and is being held at the Mesa County Jail on $200,000 bond.

Interviewed in April, Crawford’s wife said her husband regularly takes Oxycontin as prescribed by his doctor.

“She advised the doctor recently reduced his dosage, but Joel seems to be taking just as much of the medication as before,” the affidavit said.

Crawford told his wife he used a BB gun in the two local incidents, and he “found the BB gun in the garage after the police had searched the garage, stating they had missed it,” the affidavit said. Crawford threw the gun in a trash can at a local Burger King, his wife told investigators.

“She stated Joel told her he forced the employees of one of the stores into a bathroom and told them to stay there and count while he left,” the affidavit said.

Two pharmacists described similar events in the Jan. 28 robbery when a man entered the store around 9:18 a.m. and passed a hand-written note stating he had a gun and they were being robbed, the affidavit said.

One victim told police “she thought she recognized the suspect’s voice as a prior customer,” the affidavit said.

The suspect forced the employees into the bathroom and told them to stay there at least 10 minutes, threatening to kill them if they left earlier. He left the store with approximately 1,500 Oxycontin pills of various dosage levels before fleeing on a mountain bike, wearing what appeared to be a surgical mask, the affidavit said.

Crawford, meanwhile, was contacted by a Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputy March 30 after the deputy was called to investigate a report of a suspicious man near City Market, 569 32 Road, who appeared to be wearing a fake beard, black wig and latex gloves.

“During (deputy’s) contact with Crawford, he claimed he was disguised as a joke on a friend,” the affidavit. “There was no crime and Crawford was advised and left the area.”

The next day around 4:20 p.m., the F Road Rite Aid store was robbed of Oxycontin at gunpoint.

“There was no store security video active during the time of robbery,” the affidavit said.

The suspect had an orange wig, described by a witness as “something a clown would wear.” The man fled in what one witness suggested was a possible newer model Toyota hatchback.

When contacted about the City Market incident, Crawford denied involvement in the robbery. Detectives later learned Crawford had rented a 2009 Toyota Matrix, which he returned April 5.

Employee records at Grand Junction’s Halliburton office indicated Crawford arrived at work March 31 about 13 minutes after the Rite Aid robbery. Investigators found driving time both ways to the two locations was about seven minutes.

On April 6, officers executed a search warrant at Crawford’s home and recovered a box for a Daisy pellet gun, rubber gloves and time cards, among other items.

Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson on Wednesday declined comment, citing ongoing investigation, when asked about Crawford’s possible involvement in the Aug. 2 robbery in Glenwood Springs.

Police in a news release described the suspect as a white male, about 5 feet, 7 inches, possibly in his 40s, and said the man may have been wearing a reddish-colored wig. The man walked up to the Safeway pharmacy around 1 p.m., brandished what appeared to be a handgun and left with an undisclosed amount of Oxycontin.

During a bond hearing last week, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger told a judge that Crawford faces likely charges in connection with an incident in another jurisdiction, but he declined to elaborate.


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