Even when a pharmacy takes adequate precautionary steps, there’s no guarantee that a pharmacist or pharmacy technician still might not find himself or herself facing an armed robber. So what should pharmacy workers do when during a robbery?
Editor’s Note: Pharmacist Ken Fagerman is the author of “Staring Down the Barrel: A Pharmacists’ Guide to Diversion and Coping with Robbery” (AuthorHouse). He leads a crime watch group, is the director of pharmacy at a hospital, and has previously served as president of a local pharmacy association.
His book details how the efforts of pharmacists in St. Joseph County, Indiana, helped police arrest more than 30 diversion and robbery suspects, breakup two Rx fraud rings, and end the armed-robbery spree in their county. But even when a pharmacy takes adequate precautionary steps, there’s no guarantee that a pharmacist or pharmacy technician still might not find himself or herself facing an armed robber. So what should pharmacy workers do during a robbery?
In a Drug Topics’ exclusive, Fagerman shares some valuable tips.
Increasing prescription fraud, forgery attempts, and armed robberies have decidedly alarmed the pharmacy community and should cause us all to pause and review our preparedness. First and foremost, your primary defense is your alarm and security system. Criminals fear hard targets and the more advanced and visible your system is the better.
Secondly, reach out to your local police. If you haven’t already, consider forming a Pharmacy Crime Watch as a first step. This begins with an area pharmacy communication list and with a leader(s) in contact with a police crime prevention unit and prepared to issue alerts and warnings.
Thirdly, discuss with your staff how you will handle armed robbery, prescription fraud and forgery. Rehearse this response.
Prescription fraud and forgery
I have found that an in-store arrest of the suspect with undeniable evidence is the best and most efficient method of dealing with fraud and forgery. Successful actions send a strong deterrent message to the criminal element and suppress further local attempts.
Above all, don’t be a hero and/or attempt to counter or repel the suspect with a weapon. Nearly all of these attempts end badly with injury or legal consequences. Your life or that of a co-worker isn’t worth risking over a few stolen narcotics or cash.
So what should you do? Follow these tips to increase your odds of surviving the robbery and assisting law enforcement officials in apprehending these criminals.
1. Cooperate fully. As previously mentioned, resist the urge to be a hero. A few stolen drugs aren’t worth your life or that of a fellow employee.
2. Study the perpetrator and what he/she touches or moves. Is there an accomplice? Independently record on paper the description of the robbery suspect(s) and event for the police. Be a good witness.
3. If a weapon is displayed, note the type and color. If a note is used to make robbery demands, keep it for police.
4. Stay as calm as possible. Indicate you will comply with demands.
5. If possible, get the escape vehicle description, license number, and escape direction for police. If suspect is on foot, note the direction and initial route of travel. Check your employer policy and challenge alternative directives.
6. Lock the building down after the event and call police.
7. Wait for police and cooperate fully.