Pharmacy robberies on the rise
Since early fall, police have been called to an increasing number of pharmacy robberies, including two that occurred yesterday in which staff were threatened with a gun. Pharmacy employees are advised to take precautions while investigators search for suspects.
Since September 2020, there have been 21 reported pharmacy robberies across Calgary. Four have occurred in the northeast, five in the northwest, seven in the southwest, and five in the southeast. A map of the occurrences, along with their times and dates is available on The City of Calgary Newsroom.
Detectives are working to determine if several individuals or groups are responsible for the robberies, or if this is a general crime trend across the city. In most cases, the suspects approach the pharmacist, brandishing a firearm or indicating they have a weapon before walking behind the counter and obtaining drugs and cash. Often they are carrying a bag to contain the bottles they steal, and in many cases a second suspect stays at the door. Many different types of drugs are being taken, ranging from cough syrup to codeine.
Thankfully, no pharmacy employees have been physically injured, but without a doubt these incidents have had a lasting impact on many of them.
Investigators are releasing CCTV images of the suspects from several of the robberies. Anyone with information about these incidents, including potential suspicious persons in the area at the time of the robberies, or the identity of the suspects is asked to call the non-emergency police number 403-266-1234, or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously.
Pharmacy owners and employees are advised to:
- Keep safes locked at all times.
- Minimize the amount of cash and drugs readily available on site.
- CCTV Tips:
- Test your cameras to make sure they are working.
- Ensure quality of the image is sufficient to be usable in identifying suspects.
- Have purposeful focus.
- Position at least one to have a level line of sight of patrons, overhead views do not provide much assistance in identifying suspects.
- 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.
- Place height strip tape on the interior side of the main entrance door.
- Keep any doors separating the pharmacy from the store locked.
- Utilize a panic alarm for employees.
- If a robbery occurs, call 9-1-1 immediately and lock the doors to the premise to preserve evidence after robbery until police arrive.