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Man charged in doughnut shop robbery

Man claims to be Afghan veteran addicted to painkillers

WOBURN — The man accused of robbing a North Reading doughnut shop at knifepoint early Sunday morning does not appear to be the culprit sought in a recent string of Dunkin’ Donuts robberies, an investigator said Monday.

Prosecutors did not reveal whether Michael Quinlan — who pleaded not guilty Monday to armed robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon in the robbery of Heav'nly Donuts on Winter Street — is suspected in 22 Dunkin’ Donuts robberies since March. But Detective Sergeant James Quigley of the Canton police said he doubted Quinlan is responsible.

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“On the face of it, I don’t think so,” he said. “But we don’t rule anything out.”

Canton is among 16 communities where a Dunkin’ Donuts has been robbed. Last week, the crime spree continued with three robberies in two days of shops in Bedford, Burlington, and Rockland. Police do not know whether the same person is responsible for all the robberies, but each time, the thief has been armed with either a handgun or knife.

Most of the Dunkin’ Donuts robberies occurred shortly before closing time, Quigley said, while the theft of the Heav'nly Donuts occurred at 4:30 a.m., just after opening. And while the Dunkin’ Donuts robberies have stumped police for months, Quinlan was apprehended within minutes, found sitting in his car a short distance away from the doughnut shop, police said.

The $183 stolen, along with a steak knife believed to have been used in the robbery, were found on the passenger seat, police said.

Quinlan, 25, told police he had been drinking heavily and began “driving around” after he could not fall asleep, according to court records.

Quinlan is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who is addicted to painkillers, authorities said. He was ordered held without bail Monday until a hearing on Oct. 29.

A baker at Heav'nly Donuts told police that a man entered the shop brandishing a steak knife and told him to “open the register, nobody gets hurt.” He then went behind the counter where the baker was working, and held the knife to his throat.

The baker, who had been bringing goods from the back to the front counter, said he handed the man the money, then watched him run .

The baker pursued the man, then flagged down a passing police officer and pointed him to the suspect.

John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com.
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