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Suspect charged in Saugus doughnut shop heist

A Melrose man was arrested early Thursday morning after allegedly robbing a Dunkin’ Donuts shop in Saugus and making off with $27, police said. But police do not think he is the person responsible for a string of other Dunkin’ Donuts robberies in the state in recent months.

Police received a call at 1:58 a.m. reporting a robbery at the Dunkin’ Donuts store at 1204 Broadway on the northbound side of Route 1, said Saugus Police Chief Domenic DiMella.

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Witnesses told police that the suspect, Vyacheslav Phinney, allegedly entered the main door of the shop brandishing a knife, jumped over the counter, and grabbed money from the register before fleeing.

“There was a witness that saw him cross into a street and try and get into a car,” DiMella said. “Then he decided not to get into the car. He ran towards a Walgreens store and then went into a wooded area.”

A State Police K-9 unit was called, and police arrested Phinney less than a half-mile away near Essex Street about 2:45 a.m. No injuries were reported.

The robbery comes after nearly two dozen Dunkin’ Donuts shops were robbed in the region since March. There are a number of similarities among those robberies, though police have officially connected only five. In every case, the suspect has brandished a gun or a knife, and he has frequently worn dark clothing.

Phinney was wearing dark clothing during the robbery and had a knife, but police said they did not believe they had caught the suspect from the previous robberies.

“We believe this is an isolated incident, but it’s under investigation,” DiMella said. “We have forwarded the information to other agencies” in the communities where shops were robbed.

Phinney was arraigned Thursday on charges of armed robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon. A not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf in Lynn District Court. He was held without bail pending a hearing Thursday.

Jasper Craven can be reached at jasper.craven@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jasper_Craven.
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