PILL THIEF BEHIND BARS

October 19, 2010 Updated Oct 19, 2010 at 6:53 PM EDT

By ED REILLY

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October 19, 2010 Updated Oct 19, 2010 at 6:53 PM EDT

Thomas Grabski from Cheektowaga is behind bars after Lockport Police say he stole six-thousand dollars worth of pain killers. It happened Monday afternoon when Grabski entered the Rite Aid Drug Store at 459 South Transit Street in the City of Lockport. Witnesses say Grabski handed a note to a clerk demanding Oxy-Contin and threatening to shoot someone if he didn't get it. Police say the clerk observed Grabski banging something metallic on the counter.

During the robbery, a co-worker was able to alert Lockport Police. However, the twenty three year old Grabski left the store before police arrived.

At first, police thought the suspect ran into the fields behind Rite Aid. Niagara County Sheriff's, Lockport Police, and New York State Police searched the area with dogs and a helicopter. After two hours, the search was called off - but a tip call gave police new leads.

A witness reported seeing a vehicle speeding and swerving as it left the Rite Aid parking lot around 3:30pm Monday. The license plate number led police to Grabski's parent's house in the Town of Lancaster. There they found Thomas Grabski who had just finished changing the wheels on his car - an action police think was intended to disguise his SUV.

Grabski was arrested and charged with first degree robbery. He was arraigned this morning in Lockport City Court. Judge William Watson has ordered him held without bail pending an attorney appearance on Wednesday.

Police and DEA agents found the stolen pills buried behind Grabski's house on Daniel Avenue in Cheektowaga. They say the pain killers had a street value of close to $35,000.