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Robbers Seeking Opioids and Other Drugs Rattle Pharmacists

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Pharmacists on Long Island, New York, and elsewhere throughout the country, are rattled by several recent drug robberies by criminals wielding guns that turned deadly.

“I just want to get out of here alive every day; that’s my new goal,” Howard Levine, the owner of Belmont Drugs and Surgical in West Babylon, told The New York Times. “I’m numb. This has taken all the fun out of pharmacy.” Levine’s store has been hit twice by armed robbers in the past 14 months.

Around the nation, pharmacies have been robbed by armed criminals looking for narcotics, anti-anxiety drugs and other controlled medications. Some are addicted to the drugs themselves, while others sell the pills.

Some pharmacies now display signs that state they do not carry oxycodone, while others are stepping up security, including installing bulletproof glass partitions or entry systems that require customers to be buzzed in. Others have hired guards.

Last week, New York Senator Charles Schumer called for improved security for pharmacies, and longer sentences for pharmacy thefts. In a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration, he noted that since 2007 over 1,800 pharmacies nationwide have been robbed. He said that in Washington State, after time-sensitive safes and staggered inventories were introduced at many drug stores, pharmacy robberies dropped in half from 2008 to 2010.

The article notes pharmacy associations and consultants recommend that pharmacies take measures to help with robbery investigations. These include putting height decals on the sides of doors to help witnesses estimate a robber’s height, and wiping counters and doorknobs many times each day to improve the odds that police officers will be able to obtain fingerprints.

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