Preventive measures key to deterring pharmacy thefts

June 6, 2011

A high-tech alarm system, staff training, and new security cameras are deterring thefts at Gloucester Pharmacy in Gloucester, Va.

A high-tech alarm system, staff training, and new security cameras are deterring thefts at Gloucester Pharmacy in Gloucester, Va.

Keith Hodges, RPh, owner of Gloucester Pharmacy and spokesman for the “Safeguard My Meds” program, recently appeared on CNN’s “American Morning” to talk about preventive measures pharmacists can take to deter thefts. More than 1,800 pharmacy robberies have taken place in the past year, according to CNN.

“When I remodeled the store 2 years ago, I made sure I had a state-of-the art alarm system that uses sound and motion. I also put in video cameras and a flat-screen TV, which shows that you are being watched. Since I put this in, I have not had any burglaries,” Hodges said.

Before the system was in place, Gloucester Pharmacy was the scene of several nighttime break-in attempts; one criminal successfully made it into the building but was apprehended by police. “I have had people come in through the ceiling and HVAC system, and they have tried to cut through the steel doors in the back. I have spent thousands replacing the doors,” Hodges said.

In addition to the new alarm system and cameras, all pharmacy staff members wear a wireless panic button clipped to their belts. “When I go out to my parked car, if someone tries to force me back into the store, I can press that button,” Hodges said.

Hodges advises pharmacy owners to educate themselves and their staffs through the “Protect Your Pharmacy Now” program, sponsored by Purdue Pharma, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), and others. “Pharmacists need to be involved and educated in the event of an armed robbery. They need to remain calm and witness [notice details about the robber]. Cooperate with any robber; take care of the safety of employees,” Hodges said.