Pharmacies besieged by addicted thieves
The New York Times, February 7, 2011
Pharmacy robberies have become one of the more jarring effects of the prescription drug abuse epidemic that has left drugstores borrowing heist-prevention tactics from the more traditional targets, banks. In at least one case, a tiny tracking device affixed to a bottle let the police easily track a thief after a robbery. More than 1,800 pharmacy robberies have taken place nationally over the last three years, typically conducted by young men seeking opioid painkillers and other drugs to sell or feed their own addictions. The most common targets are oxycodone (the main ingredient in OxyContin), hydrocodone (the main ingredient in Vicodin) and Xanax. The robbers are brazen and desperate. In Rockland, ME, one wielded a machete as he leapt over a pharmacy counter to snatch the painkiller oxycodone, gulping some before he fled. In Satellite Beach, FL, a robber threatened a pharmacist with a cordless drill last week, and in North Highlands, CA, a holdup last summer led to a shootout that left a pharmacy worker dead.