Protecting from Robbery/Burglary

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Recent Tips have discussed drug diversion and the opioid crisis. These focused on internal threats. Pharmacies also have been increasingly the target of robberies and burglaries, sometimes while the pharmacy is closed and other times in the middle of operations and quite often with the assailant having a gun or some other lethal force weapon.

Smith et al discussed the use of RxPatrol, a web-based tool for combating pharmacy theft.1 Although reported a decade ago, RxPatrol still sees considerable use today. In the researchers’ analysis dating even prior to recent spikes in pharmacy crime, they found over 500 burglary and theft reports in a span of 2 years from 45 states. More than 70% of pharmacies reporting such crimes lacked a security camera. Among those reporting a burglary, 60% lacked dead bolt locks, a solid exterior door, a motion detector device, or a safe or vault for storage of controlled substances. Burglars most often obtained access to the pharmacy via the front door. The authors explain that some pharmacies have opted to discontinue inventory on certain drugs but that this was not the best solution due to patients requiring access to these drugs and that intruders might not even know these drugs are no longer inventoried. RxPatrol is a data-sharing mechanism that by itself does not deter a particular incident but whose information might inform community pharmacies about being potential targets. A more recent study found that among the better predictors of incidence for burglary was a previous one at the same store.2 These researchers recommended: informing employees about robbery trends, providing prevention guidelines to employees, managing risk factors, installing panic alarms, using video surveillance, tracking the stolen drugs or offender, and using deterring signage. 

Pharmacy managers must be cognizant of the inventory they carry and the likelihood that it will attract crime. The manager should speak with experienced owners and to security specialists on how best to protect the store, its employees, and its patients. Proper training for all employees on how to handle an armed perpetrator both before and after the event is also warranted.

Additional information about The Basics of Employment Law and Workplace Safety  can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Smith MY, Graham JA, Steffey A: RxPatrol: A web-based tool for combating pharmacy theft. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2009;49:599-603.

2Mann ED. Crime prevention in practice: An analysis of pharmacy robberies. Masters thesis. Vancouver, BC, Canada: Surrey University; 2017.

Go to the profile of Shane Desselle

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California

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Go to the profile of Shane Desselle
Shane Desselle 10 months ago

What policies does your pharmacy have in place regarding robbery and burglary?