O yes, pharmacies or drug stores do get robbed or broken into. People would take advantage of either cash that is hidden in the cashier within the stores and sometimes, they would go after the controlled substances. According to the SDPD Neighborhood Policing Resource Team, 663 armed robberies were reported to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in 2011 (controlled substances were taken too wherein OxyContin and Vicodin were the common targets). Tips pharmacy owners can follow to improve their store security:
- Employ a security guard/personnel
- CCTV Cameras – install in strategic locations and ensure that recorded data is properly stored
- Alarm system – if available, connect the alarm system to your local Police department
- Alarm for break in
- Stress buttons for hold ups or other emergency – hide in strategic location
- Update locks or access codes every once in a while (especially when parting with an employee)
- Emergency exits should only be used for emergencies. An alarm sounding when they are accessed can be helpful (be sure to train your employees about the proper use of the doors).
- Adequate lighting and visibility – make sure there are no places in or outside of the store that is too dark and place your cashier station where pedestrian can see it well (a see through window can increase visibility). Also leave lights open when the store is closed (if not operating 24 hours, ensure that the employee opening or closing the shop has company or security)
- Perform emergency drills/training – invite professionals (Police) to assess your drills and your security system)
- Be aware of the SOP or standard operating procedures if your store has been robbed or broken in – such as properly reporting the robbery of controlled substances to DEA office.
- Include first aid training so if ever there are injuries, they can be attended to immediately.
- Always be alert – monitor and observe people’s suspicious activity within and outside of your shop and always be on guard.
- Cash storage system – don’t just leave excess money in you cashier or any storage room in your shop, use a time lock system or send it directly to the bank.
- Keep your store clean – be sure to wipe out counters, windows, etc. daily to ensure that you limit finger prints to the customer of the daily and the robber. This can make it easier for the police to track the thief.
- Employee policies – be sure to set policies and regulations on how your employees should perform their tasks (especially those who are given access to important information or money).
- Be sure to have more than one employees working specially on high risk time of the day.
- Limit employees that have access to safes, security systems, etc.
What should pharmacists do? The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), Purdue Pharma L.P., and their partners during the "Protect Your Pharmacy Week" encourage pharmacists to make a plan to REACT Remain Calm
- Comply with suspect
- Do not resist
- End encounter as soon as possible
- Make a mental note of suspect description
- Activate robbery alarm as soon as it is safe to do so
- Lock doors after suspect(s) exit
- Notify police as soon as possible
- Provide brief description of suspect and mode and direction of travel
- Provide additional details as necessary
- Protect the crime scene
- Keep customers calm
- Avoid witness collaboration
- Assist police with investigation
"NCPA and its partners developed the Protect Your Pharmacy Now! initiative in 2008 to help pharmacy owners proactively prepare to keep pharmacies a place of safe and effective health care," said Robert J. Greenwood, RPh, NCPA President and Waterloo, Iowa pharmacy owner. "We are proud to continue the program with additional tools and resources to help pharmacists effectively REACT in the case of a crime against their stores." (read more) After all SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) has been done after the robbery, take the time to study the scene, how it happened and find ways on how you can improve your security. Always remember that the primary concern should always be the safety of people in the store (co-workers and clients) and not the products and money within the store.