Local News

Robberies put spotlight on drug thefts

Posted April 20, 2009 6:06 p.m. EDT
Updated April 20, 2009 9:32 p.m. EDT

— Police are searching for two suspects they said used an assault-style rifle to rob the CVS pharmacy at 230 Cole Ave. at around 3:15 p.m. this past Thursday. It is the third robbery of a pharmacy in recent months.

Maj. George Marr, assistant chief of the Raeford Police Department, said one of the men held the rifle and forced four employees and two customers to lie on the floor. The other suspect jumped over the counter and grabbed more than 1,000 tablets of Percocet and OxyContin, and stuffed them into his cargo-style pants. No money was taken.

Pharmacist Rad Rich, who owns The Medicine Shoppe in Fayetteville, said these painkillers are in high demand among drug dealers.

“You see zombies walking and you know they’re on it,” Rich said.

Last week, two men were arrested after police said they stole prescription drugs from the CVS at 3161 Six Forks Road in Raleigh.

In February, two armed suspects wearing masked robbed the CVS store at T.W. Alexander Drive in Durham. The gunman approached an employee and demanded specific types of drugs. The suspects remain at large.

Marr said all pharmacies should be on alert. “I just want all pharmacies to be aware of the desperation of people who are in the clutches of addiction,” he said.

Pharmacy organizations and law officers said a capsule of the prescription pain killers can run be sold on the street for $20 to $120, depending on the dose.

A police incident report shows that 1,856 tablets and capsules were taken in Raeford, but Marr would not give the estimated street value of the drugs.

Rich has never been robbed, but he recognizes that lucrative narcotics make pharmacies a target.

“That’s one reason we don’t keep our narcotics in a particular place,” he said. “We disperse them with the other drugs so only we know where they are.”

Rich said many people will go to doctors, pretending they're in pain to get their hands on pain killers.

“They’ll give a good sob story and they get a good prescription out of it,” Rich said.

Rich said he recognizes the symptoms of a drug pusher.

“When they ask for a specific ID number on a tablet that gives a big, red flag,” Rich said.

Raeford police have made no arrests, but the suspects are described as white men between the ages of 20 and 28. They were wearing baseball caps and casual clothes and stand about 6 feet tall.