One Clear Sign of an Epidemic: Pharmacy Robberies

The addiction for pharmaceuticals is at an all time high. One consequence is that there has been an unprecedented number of robberies at major chain pharmacies. As other crimes across the nation are seeing reductions, this crime that is increasing.

CVS - prescription drug crimes
“Why would you want to work there instead of somewhere safe like 7-11?”

Major pharmacies have had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars upgrading security. The penalties are stiff, and once caught  the perpetrators get a rude awaking of the federal system.

Coast to Coast Pharmacy Crimes

Knoxville Suffers: One area where there has been a rise in prescription drug armed robberies is Knoxville Tennessee.  Authorities  have noticed a drastic increase in drug store robberies in the past year.  Knoxville police department shows that robberies jumped from 26 to 44 from 2009 to 2010.     In the month of December 2010 investigators worked on ten cases – including one day where there were three separate attempts. Already in January of this year, authorities have already started investigating five cases, where three of them happened at the same location.

In San Diego County (in the city of El Cajon), a man was arrested two weeks ago on Monday, January 10, 2011. The suspect is being accused of attempting to rob a CVS drugstore.
How a pharmacy robbery is executed: At 5:39 p.m. the suspect entered the pharmacy and approached the counter. He simulated a handgun under his sweatshirt and demanded OxyContin. The pharmacy employee denied his demand and pickup the phone to call the police. That’s when the suspect jumped over the counter grabbed the phone and fled with the OxyContin. The store manager followed the suspect to a near by Jack-In-The-Box, where officers arrested David Joseph Foster, a 56 year old resident of San Diego County.

Take a moment to really think about the desperation involved in this man’s actions: pretending to have a firearm (thus risking prison obviously but also potentially death) then jumping over the counter to physically accost the pharmacist (out of desperation) and then finally, having no escape plan, to the point where he was apprehended easily at a Jack in the Box. These are the actions of someone (most likely) in the throes of opiate addiction.

Prescription Painkillers Cause an Evolution in Crime

Investigators say that violent crimes such as murders overall have dropped. That robbery of homes and banks has dropped as well, but the addiction of these pills has created an increase in new criminals that are just trying to find any way to get there fix. These robbers will work alone or in small groups. They will be flashing a gun or calmly lay a note on the counter. Some go as far as shooting gun shoots into the ceiling. The typical robber in Knox County, Tennessee has been white males in there 20’s and 30’s, usually with criminal history and all looking for the same opiate based pill – OxyContin.

CVS and Walgreens lead the Pack for Prescription Drug Robberies

Investigators say that these robbers are not robbing small Mom-and-Pop stores. The main target is large corporate pharmacies. CVS took first place for being the most robbed pharmacy; Walgreens came in second. Its all about location, most of these stores are close to interstates with a quick convenient in and out customer service system. Statistics also show that the robbers like to rob in the middle of rush hour, between 2-3 p.m. or at 6 p.m., when most of the pick ups occur.

Walgreens officials say that there company have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in security upgrades. Walgreens has doubled the number of cameras in there stores. They have also invested in new higher-resolution video technology. Which all this new technology has helped the Knoxville police department to apprehend some of the suspects.

A federal grand jury indicted seven people, with charges of robbing nine drugstores in Knox County with in the past five months. Which serial robbers or those who point or expose a gun can face federal prosecution for interference with interstate commerce. A federal conviction guarantees prison time with no chance of parole. If the state gives the conviction there is a chance for parole and the possibility of the minimum jail time.

From Legitimate Prescription to Ruined Lives

What’s sad is most of these criminals once had a legitimate prescription to pills like OxyContin. Then the addiction out last the ailment and they get cut off the pain pills. Desperation overwhelms the addicts who will go through drastic measures to get a hand full of pills.

–  Cesar Villalobos