, Newburyport, MA

November 20, 2012

Brazen thief left with cigarettes, but no money, at general store

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — SEABROOK — A local man was arraigned in Hampton District Court yesterday after being arrested Saturday afternoon for allegedly robbing O’Briens General Store on Batchelder Road earlier that day.

John Garvey, 29, of 26 Dows Lane, was charged with one count of armed robbery, a class A felony, after his arrest at his home by Sgt. Robert Granlund and officer Michael Cawley. Bail was set at $15,000 cash and he is due back in court on Nov. 28 for a probable cause hearing at Hampton District Court, according to police.

Seabrook police Lt. Michael Gallagher said Garvey came into the store and initially asked for two packs of cigarettes. After the female clerk placed the cigarettes on the counter, Garvey brandished a knife and handed her a note demanding cash.

Instead of complying with Garvey, the clerk closed the till and walked away from the register. Garvey took the cigarettes and fled the scene.

Gallagher said video surveillance captured images of the suspect that were then placed on the department’s Facebook page. The department soon received two anonymous tips pointing to Garvey as the man who robbed the store. He was arrested at his home hours later without incident by Granlund and Cawley, according to police.

“Once again it’s a great example of how the patrol portion of the department works with the detectives and we thank the input of the people who saw the photo on Facebook and called in. Without that we might still be looking for him,” Gallagher said.

Asked for the suspect’s motive, Gallagher said it appears he was looking for money to support a drug habit.

O’Briens General Store, with a second location in Portsmouth, offers a wide range of merchandise from coffee to pizza to fresh Maine lobster.

A manager at the Seabrook location said yesterday the store remained open following the alleged robbery and that Saturday marked the first time the business had been targeted. The female employee behind the counter told her that the suspect came at her with a knife.

“She’s obviously freaked out by it, it’s scary. You never think it would happen to you,” the manager said.

Gallagher said the clerk did not do what police advise clerks to do when confronted by the armed robber.

“We recommend they do as they are asked and let us take care of it afterward,” Gallagher said.