Pharmacy robberies and awareness for citizens
This year alone, our officers have been called to over 80 pharmacy robberies in our city. These crimes are becoming increasingly violent and we are extremely concerned for the safety of pharmacy staff and citizens present when these crimes occur.
We take these robberies very seriously and have dedicated multiple investigative resources to locate and arrest individuals involved.
In most cases, armed suspects approach pharmacy employees, or indicate they have a weapon, rush behind pharmacy counters, physically overcome staff and demand access to secured pharmaceutical drugs and cash.
“We wish to again alert the public and pharmacy employees about the ongoing crime trend of pharmacy robberies occurring in our city,” said Staff Sergeant Rod Harbidge of the Calgary Police Service Robbery Unit. “Similar robberies are also taking place at cannabis stores and cellphone stores at a growing rate and these types of robberies have become increasingly violent over time. These events have a damaging impact on the victims, businesses, and citizens present while a crime is in progress, and we are asking for the public’s help to notify police when they see suspicious or criminal behaviour.”
Citizens can support crime prevention and the reporting of crimes in the following ways:
- Be aware of your surroundings when shopping and take note of suspicious behaviour.
- If you are a customer at a store where you see suspicious activity, specifically individuals behind employee counters that look out of place, heavily concealed persons running out of stores, or if you believe a crime is occurring, make sure you are in a safe place to notify staff, or contact police, and if necessary, remain to provide witness information.
We are also asking for the public’s help to identify suspects in two of the most recent pharmacy robberies that occurred in our city.
On Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, at approximately 11 a.m., two suspects entered the staff-only dispensary area of the Walmart Pharmacy, located at 1212 37 Street S.W., confronted pharmacy staff with a knife and demanded pharmaceutical drugs. The individuals placed the stolen items in a black Adidas duffle bag and fled the store.
The first suspect is described as being between the ages of 16 and 18 years old, 5'9" tall, with a slim build, wearing a black jacket with a white lining, black pants, grey and black running shoes, a blue surgical-style face mask, and white gloves.
The second suspect is described as being between the ages of 16 and 18 years old, 5'9" tall, with a slim build, wearing a black jacket with a fur-lined hood, black hoodie with white strings, black pants, black runners, a blue surgical-style face mask, and white gloves, and was carrying a black Adidas duffel back with the logo in white.
On Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, at approximately 8:15 p.m., four suspects entered the Pharmasave, located at 79 Martindale Blvd. N.E., and began yelling at staff and customers to get on the ground. Two suspects were carrying handguns and demanded pharmacy staff open the pharmaceutical drug safe. During this exchange, an employee was kicked and pistol whipped by the offenders.
The suspects gained access to pharmaceutical drugs and cash, and subsequently fled the pharmacy out the back of the building to a vehicle waiting outside.
All four of the suspects are described as being between the ages of 16 and 17 years, and were wearing black clothing, face masks and carrying black backpacks.
Photos of the all the above suspects as well as CCTV footage of the Martindale robbery can be found on The City of Calgary Newsroom.
Anyone with information about these robberies, or the individuals involved, is asked to call the non-emergency police number at 403-266-1234. Tips can also be shared anonymously through Crime Stoppers using any of the following methods:
APP: P3 Tips
Case #21456697, #21459065 / 3044
In addition, pharmacy owners and employees are advised to:
- Trust your instincts. If you witness suspicious behaviour, contact police.
- Minimize the amount of cash and drugs readily available on site.
- Keep safes locked at all times.
- Utilize a panic alarm for employees.
- Place height strip tape on the interior side of the main entrance door.
- Keep any doors separating the pharmacy from the store locked.
- CCTV Tips:
- Test your cameras to make sure they are working.
- Ensure the quality of the image(s) is sufficient for identifying suspects.
- Have purposeful focus.
- Position at least one camera to have a level line of sight of patrons.
- Ensure staff can access video content at any time and if possible, move the video to a cloud-based storage. After an event, this footage will be required as soon as possible for descriptions.
- If a robbery occurs, call 9-1-1 immediately and lock the doors to the premise after the offender leaves to preserve evidence until police arrive.