Man arrested in robbery of three Modesto pharmacies

Joseph Michael Anderson
Joseph Michael Anderson

What started as a medical response resulted in the arrest of a Modesto man on suspicion of armed robbery and several other charges.

Around 4 p.m. Sunday, emergency dispatchers received a call of a man slumped over in his car on Haddon Avenue in southeast Modesto, with the vehicle partially blocking the roadway, Modesto Police Department spokeswoman Heather Graves said.

“Fire gets there first and is trying to provide medical assistance when they discover he is armed,” she said. “They secure his firearm and call us. We get there and he appears to be under the influence of something, so we start an investigation.”

The driver, Joseph Michael Anderson, 20, had a loaded weapon, a large amount of cash, marijuana and a large amount of prescription drugs in his car, Graves said. “He was arrested for all of that, in addition to DUI.”

The department’s Narcotics Enforcement Team, working with detectives from the Violent Crimes Unit, began an investigation of the prescription medicine, Graves said, and found the drugs matched what was taken in three pharmacy robberies last month. Anderson also matched the descriptions given of the robber.

The first robbery was May 2 at a Save Mart on Oakdale Road at Scenic Drive. The second was at the Walgreens on McHenry and Roseburg avenues, and the third was May 28 at the Walgreens at Coffee Road and Sylvan Avenue.

In all three cases, the robber demanded narcotics. No weapon was shown in the first two crimes, Graves said, but in the last one, he showed that he had a gun in a bag.

Anderson was booked Sunday on suspicion of possession of an assault weapon, transportation of narcotics while in possession of a loaded firearm, driving under the influence and violation of parole.

He was booked again Monday on the robbery charges, Graves said.

Anyone with information regarding criminal activity is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 209-521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters may also text information to Crime Stoppers at 274637. Just type “TIP704” along with your message.