The New Canaan Police Department presented a Civilian Service Award Wednesday to a 2011 New Canaan High School graduate for his role in the arrest of three South Carolina residents who police said were conspiring to commit fraud and larceny at Walgreens, 36 Pine St., in July.

Grayson Cordes, an assistant manager at the store, was working the night shift on July 21 when one male and two females attempted to purchase gift cards with other gift cards, which is usually a sign of criminal activity, police said. Aware of the group's intentions, Cordes called police and the three were arrested minutes later in the Walgreens parking lot, police said.

While searching the suspect vehicle, officers found merchandise that was "fraudulently obtained," according to police.

"In fact, they had done similar schemes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey," Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said. "But of course when they came to New Canaan, we caught them, thanks to Grayson, thanks to our officers."

The award was presented during a Police Commission meeting at the New Canaan Police Department Sept. 17. Cordes, a University of Connecticut student, also received a $100 gift card from the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce.

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"We need more people like this to watch and alert us to things and people who come commit crimes in New Canaan," Krolikowski said.

The chief said it is rare for someone to receive such award.

"We don't give this out very often, unfortunately. It's only probably once a year, if that," Krolikowski said. "We don't take them lightly, we do give them out when there's great cause for it and Grayson has done a great job. He's been helpful in a lot of other investigations, too."

The New Canaan Walgreens has been the site of at least four other police incidents in the past year. In August, a man stole $2,000 worth of over-the-counter medications; in July, a man attempted to use a fraudulent prescription to buy oxycodone; in December 2013, a 6-year-old boy was left alone in the car in the parking lot while his father went into the pharmacy; and in September 2013, 32 boxes of Prilosec, valued at $620, were stolen from the shelves.

"Frankly, fraud and larceny are a big thing in our town," Krolikowski said. "If you see things that are suspicious, call us. ... With (Cordes') help, we caught these people and arrested them, and they stopped their crime spree."

The three suspects, who are all in their 20s, were charged with sixth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny.

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson