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Robberies are never a good thing, but sometimes they make for the craziest stories.
Pharmacy can be a dangerous profession. Pharmacists, after all, are the gatekeepers of millions of dollars in drugs.
If you ever find yourself the victim of a robbery, remember our 7 tips for surviving a pharmacy robbery. Robberies don’t happen often, but when they do they can put pharmacists and other pharmacy employees at risk.
But sometimes robbers, even successful ones, pull off heists so weird you can’t help but laugh.
Related article: Are you safe at work?
Here are seven of the craziest pharmacy robberies ever. A popular tactic seems to be using strange outfits-to varying degrees of success-but criminals seem to be willing to try anything. No robbery is good, but some are definitely better than others.
Up next: The Best Costume Award
Police thought they had arrested the right suspect-an African American man accused of robbing four banks, a credit union, and a CVS. Several victims identified him, and even his mother identified him based on a surveillance photo on TV. But they had the wrong man.
The real culprit? Conrad Zdzierak, a 30-year-old white immigrant from Poland.
So why the confusion? Zdzierak apparently purchased an ultra-realistic silicone face mask-described by the company who makes them as “movie quality”-which looked exactly like the incorrectly-apprehended man.
Zdzierak was discovered after his girlfriend found the mask and an ink-stained pile of cash.
43-year-old Michael Kevin Meadows was ready to rob a pharmacy in Beaver, West Virginia. He was dressed in full camouflage and a paintball mask. He began to spray pepper spray at the pharmacy’s employees to subdue them.
You can see where this is going-Meadows walked into the cloud of pepper spray and was, according to the police, “overcome by the substance.” He staggered out to his car and drove away, but police were able to identify his vehicle.
Maybe the pharmacist could give him something for his eyes?
One of the more creative criminals on this list, Edgar Repko Jr., 29 managed to rob the same pharmacy twice while looking like completely different people.
His first robbery was clean. All police could see was a man looking like Mike Tyson-they found that mask in the bushes after he’d tossed it.
The second time he wasn’t so lucky-police found the suspect attempting to pry open the door of the pharmacy, wearing a Mr. T mask. Maybe he wasn’t such a genius mechanic after all?
Susan Beller, a pharmacist in ÃÃSpokane, WA was handed a note saying simply, “Gun. Give me your OxyContin, oxycodone, and methadone.” But this pharmacist was fed up-she’d already been held up twice by this same guy-and she was prepared.
She went off to the backroom where she had prepared a surprise for the would-be thief: bear mace. This painful concoction is used as a bear deterrent, but in this case it was used as criminal deterrent.
After dousing the suspect with the mace, he ran for the door. Beller and a co-worker-who was wielding a bat-chased him out of the store and he was apprehended by the police shortly after.
According to Beller, she knew that her store was far from a police station. “I made the choice I needed to make,” she said. “Everyone has to make their own choice.”
Times are tough, even for superheroes. A man in an East-Harlem pharmacy hopped the counter and threatened the pharmacist with a box cutter, demanding several different pain killers.
Reports didn’t say how deftly the man hopped over the counter, but if his costume was any indication, it must have been fairly agile. The man decided that dressing as Spider-Man was the best disguise, but the pharmacist apparently didn’t think so. The pharmacist refused and the not-so-superhero escaped-prompting one of the oddest wanted posters of all time.
Pharmacies can be stressful. While pharmacists can work in this kind of environment day in and day out, mere mortals have trouble coping with it.
That may explain why 19-year-old Caleb Smith forgot the most important part of an armed robbery-keeping hold of your gun. He walked into a Pensacola, FL, CVS and demanded drugs. The pharmacist complied, and stuffed a bag full of drugs for him. Had Smith been a pharmacist he would have been able to count out his haul effortlessly. But because he was new to the pharmacy world, he set down his gun on the counter and searched through the bag.
The pharmacist grabbed the gun and turned it on him. The would-be thief ran for the door, only to be tripped by another pharmacy employee. He was held until police arrived.
And the worst part? The gun turned out to be just a starter’s pistol. Pharmacy: It’s not for beginners.
Plenty of criminals on this list tried dressing up as more famous people, but what happens when famous people try robbing pharmacies?
In July 2011, Michael Todd arrived in Massachusetts with his band, Coheed and Cambria. They were playing a show that night, but Todd apparently had different plans. Just hours before the band was set to go onstage, he drove to a pharmacy.
He walked up to the counter and showed the pharmacist a note on his phone-he had a bomb and was going to detonate it if he was not given OxyContin. The pharmacist complied and Todd walked out with six bottles of the opioid.
He exited the store and took a taxi back to the concert venue. Police caught up with him on his tour bus.
The moral of the story? Even if you’re famous or think you can look like you’re famous, don’t mess with pharmacists.