Pharmacy Robberies on the Rise
A trend of pharmacy robberies nationwide seems like a distant problem, until it hits close to home. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports the pharmacy robberies in 2010 at 81 percent higher than the rate in 2006.
A recent news report highlighted the impact of this trend in Maine. The state saw 21 pharmacy robbers in 2010, with 16 reported for 2011. Roy McKinney, director of the DEA in Maine remembers a time when pharmacy robberies were unheard of.
Most pharmacy robberies in Maine are committed by individuals with an addiction to prescription medications, according to McKinney. Addicts tend to go to extremes looking for their next fix, although the street price for securing such drugs has prompted a number of individuals to seek out pharmacies for their supply.
McKinney noted that painkillers can fetch as much as a dollar per milligram when sold on the street. The person who robs the local pharmacy and scores 500 tablets of Oxycodone will find the activity quite lucrative.
What tends to be overlooked by addicts and those seeking a fix on the street is the danger in taking prescription medications without physician oversight. Joe Bruno, a long-time pharmacist and pharmacy franchise owner, stressed the overdose death rate in Maine is more than the traffic death rate, signaling an epidemic.
Bruno only started paying attention to robbery potential in the last five to 10 years when the demand for prescription drugs on the street started to mount. Now, employees in his stores deal with the potential on a daily basis.
Today, pharmacists are working closely with law enforcement to try and improve security in their stores to prevent robberies and keep employees and customers safe. While pharmacies in some states have placed armed guards in their stores, Bruno hopes to never get to that point.