MANCHESTER — Police agencies in at least three cities on Friday received four false bomb threats within two hours of each other at Rite Aid stores in what may be part of an ongoing nationwide hoax.
Rite Aids in Hooksett, Durham and in Manchester on Friday received calls from someone claiming to have left a bomb in their stores.
A store in Durham was called about 4:30 p.m. and the Hooksett store at 4:50 p.m., while two Manchester stores, at 1631 Elm St. and 122 McGregor St., received calls at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.
Manchester police Lt. Todd Boucher said Sgt. Shawn McCabe spoke with a person making the threat. He said the man, speaking in “a foreign accent,” wanted store employees to activate money cards for him.
Ashley Flower, a Rite Aid spokeswoman, said Friday evening that the nationwide pharmacy chain is among other chains that have experienced a series of bomb threats this year across the country.
She said the caller asks employees to activate a Green Dot MoneyPak reloadable and pre-paid money card and if the employee doesn’t comply, the caller makes a bomb threat.
“While we have no reason to believe these threats are credible, the safety of our associates and customers is our top priority, and we take these threats very seriously,” Flower said. “We are cooperating and working closely with the local authorities to respond appropriately to and investigate the situation.”
Boucher said the Manchester department is aware of the nationwide hoax.
“Obviously, it ties up our manpower,” he said. “And often, we’ll have to evacuate the stores until we can determine if it’s a hoax.”
The store at 1631 Elm St. was calm and back open for business at 6:50 p.m., with police gone and customers buying groceries and picking up prescriptions.
“It was like a half hour at the most,” clerk Deziree Harrington said of the threat’s duration.
Clerk Patrick Synan said nobody panicked after the store’s manager took the call.
“I don’t think anyone admitted to being afraid,” he said.
Boucher said Friday evening that the city department hadn’t yet conferred with police in Hooksett or Durham.
“But that doesn’t mean there won’t be further follow up,” he said.