It was a bit of luck that led authorities in Mississippi to a man tied to a string of pharmacy burglaries across three states last year — a discovery that ultimately led Elyric Nathaniel Singleton to federal prison.

After pleading guilty to nine separate burglaries at pharmacies across Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, Singleton was sentenced eight years in prison by Senior United States District Judge Ginny Granade on July 11.

Singleton was arrested last May after he and another individual were nearly caught while attempting to break into Jim’s Drug Store, in Lucedale, Miss. in a botched effort to steal controlled medications.

“Patrol units in the area heard an audible alarm coming from the pharmacy and pulled into the parking lot,” Acting United States Attorney Steve Butler said in a statement announcing the sentence. “Singleton and the other individual observed the patrol units and fled the building by breaking out the drive-thru window with a crowbar.”

Singleton and his accomplice eluded capture at the time, but in their haste to leave the scene, a box they had filled with controlled substances was left behind on the floor of the pharmacy, along with a 2015 Dodge Journey that investigators found parked behind the store.

After obtaining a search warrant for the Dodge Journey, investigators in Lucedale found the identification of Singleton and another individual in the vehicle. Clothing tags also led police to a Wal-Mart in Mobile, where surveillance video showed men purchasing clothes that matched those worn by Singleton and his accomplice in the Lucedale burglary.

Two suspects were caught on a surveillance camera as they broke into a pharmacy in Opp, Alabama on March 3, 2016. (Opp Police Department)

After he was initially charged, Singleton admitted his involvement in prior burglaries at pharmacies in Opp, Elba, Auburn, Wetumpka and Opelika, as well as similar break-ins in the Mobile area and around the Florida Panhandle.

In each burglary, Singleton stole or attempted to steal controlled substances from the pharmacies, renting new vehicles at various locations under his own name between January and May of 2016.

Singleton’s cell phone showed texts to several individuals, during the period of the burglaries, notifying them there were pills available and what the price of them of would be.

In at least some of the other burglaries, a second suspect as identified as Donald Harris, who is currently incarcerated in Texas for an unrelated incident. According to police, he’s awaiting extradition to face his pending federal charges.

“The theft of prescription drugs is a reprehensible act, particularly in the height of this ongoing opioid crisis. Not only do the stolen prescription drugs cost the pharmacy thousands of dollars to replace, but the stolen drugs also fuel the drug habits of those addicted to prescription medication,” Butler said. “Singleton’s actions were reprehensible, and we are pleased that Judge Granade sentenced him to a lengthy stay in federal prison.”

Stephen G. Azzam, a special agent in charge of the DEA’s New Orleans Field Division, said cases like the one that led to Singleton’s conviction require a collaborative effort between local and federal law enforcement.

In addition to the DEA, agencies in Baldwin County, Lucedale, Opp, Opelika, Wetumpka, Escambia County, Fla., Robertsdale, and Auburn assisted in the investigation. Assistant U.S. attorneys Deborah Griffin and Christopher Bodnar prosecuted the case.