1-Jun-15 6:00 AM  CST

DEA Says Pharmacy Robberies Increasing

Information released recently by the Drug Enforcement Agency shows that pharmacy robberies are at an all time high and continuing to increase. According to the DEA’s statistics thus far for 2015, Indiana has seen the most significant rise in pharmacy robberies with 34 between January 1st 2015 and March 31st 2015. That’s more than twice the robberies in California this year, which has seen 16, but had a record 94 in 2014. Experts believe that if Indiana continues on this pace they will surpass California’s previous year’s robberies before the year’s end, not a record anyone aspires to break.

The DEA is warning pharmacies to be on the alert. In 2014 there were 829 pharmacy robberies nationwide with California having the most. This was a 16% increase from 2013 when there where 713 pharmacy robberies nationwide with Arizona winning the distinction of having the most pharmacy robberies. According to the DEA California saw 56% more pharmacy robberies in 2014 than in 2013, which is just one of the reasons the increasing number of robberies in Indiana has become so alarming. A difference in state populations alone makes Indiana’s increase in pharmacy robberies among the worst statistics ever.

A 2012 report released by the DEA to help state and local police solve pharmacy robberies stated that 69% of pharmacy robberies are solved, 23% go unsolved, and 8% have a suspect, but are still unsolved. So what does a typical pharmacy robbery suspect look like, and what are they seeking when they walk through the pharmacy’s door? The DEA says the typical robbery suspect will be seeking out Class II prescription narcotics such as, oxycodone and hydrocodone as well as benzodiazepines like diazepam and alprazolam. Suspects are normally somewhere in their mid 20’s or 30’s and white males who hid their faces with sunglasses, hats, or other facial or head coverings, such as a hoodie.

Robberies often start by a note being handed to the pharmacy technician or pharmacist and are over in less than a minute. Criminals can net more money from one single pharmacy robbery than they can from the hold up of an ATM. The DEA encourages pharmacy staff to comply with the robbery suspect’s demands to protect staff as well as any customers that may be in the store when the robbery is taking place. Many times the robbery is over so quickly customers may not know a robbery has taken place.

The DEA gives the following suggestions to help discourage pharmacy robberies,

  • Install cameras throughout the store and in plain site where potential robbery suspects can plainly see them
  • Have posted signs that state sunglasses, hats and hoodies are prohibited
  • Install a panic button at the pharmacy counter that will silently alert police that a robbery is in progress
  • Keep stock to a minimum for the drugs most often sought by criminals
  • Train staff to recognize any identifying marks of the robbery suspect such as,

earrings, tattoos, scar, facial features, hair color, height, weight, or even if the suspect was left or right handed.

As pharmacy robberies continue to increase pharmacy staff should be vigilant in recognizing the problem exist, but should never try to stop a robbery or go after a robbery suspect. The safest way to end a pharmacy robbery situation is to comply with demands and then call 911 after the suspect has fled the scene. In a pharmacy robbery keeping staff and customers safe are the only things that really matter.

Ross, M., (2015), “Pharmacy Robberies on the Rise, DEA Data Suggest”, Pharmacy Times, http://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/Pharmacy-Robberies-on-the-Rise-DEA-Data-Suggests, retriev

For additional information on this article, please contact:
Sandra Andrews
(717) 360-1159
Source: Sandy Andrews  

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