Man arraigned for East Lyme consignment store robbery

A man who said he lost his job and was desperate for money was arraigned Wednesday in New London Superior Court after state police charged him with robbing at knifepoint the Whimsical Consignment Shop in Niantic Saturday.

Travis L. Pullen, 27, of 156 Pennsylvania Ave., Niantic, is accused of first-degree robbery and sixth-degree larceny. Judge Hillary B. Strackbein set his bond at $100,000 and transferred the case to the court where major crimes are heard. His next court date is June 24. The judge ordered him to be monitored electronically if he posts bond.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit prepared by Detective Christopher Greer of the state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad, a man who was working at the consignment shop called 911 at 6:11 p.m. Saturday to report that he had been robbed of $490 by a man wearing a cloth mask and wielding a knife. The police searched the area with a K9 to no avail, but a surveillance video of the incident provided a clear image of the robber even though his face was obscured.

The victim called police again later to say that he had purchased a Louis Vuitton belt two days earlier from a person who had come into the store and looked like the robber. He gave police Pullen’s name and address and produced a videotape of that transaction. The police went to Pullen’s home and he agreed to follow them to Troop E for an interview. Pullen denied the robbery at first, but confessed when East Lyme police officer Jean Cavanaugh, with whom he had a good rapport, told him to “own up to what he had done,” according to the affidavit.

Pullen, who has an infant son, said he had lost his job and was unable to make ends meet with his seasonal landscape position. He said he drove away from the robbery through an alley and threw the knife out the window as he headed toward Old Lyme on Route 156. He said he stopped at the Citgo gasoline station in Old Lyme, bought $30 worth of gas and threw his clothes from the robbery in a trash can before driving to a friend’s house in Salem.

Pullen told the police to tell the victim he was sorry and would repay him.

Asked about the remainder of the stolen money, he said he threw it out the window near the intersection of interstates 395 and 95. Police recovered Pullen’s clothing from the Old Lyme gas station but did not find the cash after searching the highway area.

— Karen Florin

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