DENVER (CBS4) – A man with gun robbed a pharmacy on Tuesday and police in two metro departments are now investigating similar crimes. It appears the thief is looking for a particular prescription.
“You potentially have the ability to get more money robbing a pharmacy instead of going after a bank,” Agent Kevin Merrill with the Drug Enforcement Administration said.
Stealing prescription medication is a growing business in Colorado.
“If you were to get a thousand tablets of oxycontin at 80 milligrams a tablet, you’d have $80,000 potentially in your hands,” Merrill said.
The use has also increased. In 2009 more than twice as many people in Colorado died from prescription drug abuse than from drunk driving accidents.
Money and addiction fuel crimes such as these. Over the weekend a man with a gun walked away with thousands of dollars worth of pills from a Walgreens in Arvada.
“They will commit an armed robbery in a pharmacy or a burglary just to steal those pills and get them on the market,” Merrill said.
The same thing happened in January at a Walgreens in Wheat Ridge where the robber demanded vicodin and oxycontin.
The DEA says oxycontin is becoming more popular than heroin.
“Some of them prefer it because they know the purity and regulations into making that tablet,” Merrill said.
Pharmacies have been put on alert and some have even chosen not to carry certain drugs.
“Obviously if someone comes in with a gun demanding pills, that puts a lot of innocent people in harms way, and so pharmacies have just flat-out discontinued giving out those pills,” Merrill said.
Walgreens told CBS4 “it has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in security technology in the last year and will continue to investigate additional security measures that may be of benefit in deterring these crimes.”