DENVER (CBS4)- Some pharmacies in Colorado are hiring armed security because of soaring prescription drug thefts.
Sen. Michael Bennet has introduced a new plan to crack down on what he calls an epidemic. The bill would increase penalties for prescription drug thefts.
The penalty for stealing a controlled substance is the same as stealing a CD, as little as one year in prison.
In the past year in Denver, there have been 32 pharmacy robberies, that’s an average of more than three each month.
At Cornell Pharmacy, Tony Jones hired armed security after he was held up at gunpoint two different times.
“Each time they were looking for the same medication, which is Oxycontin,” said Jones.
Bennet said the problem is made worse by laws that do little to discourage it.
“Today the fine for stealing a CD and criminal exposure for stealing a CD are the same as stealing a controlled substance from a pharmacy, which is ridiculous,” said Bennet.
Bennet has co-sponsored a bill that would increase the penalties not only for those who commit the robberies, but those who knowingly buy and resell the stolen drugs.
“There are shipping containers being discovered, full of stolen pharmaceuticals being resold to people,” said Bennet. “It’s a huge danger to our community to have drugs floating around.”
Bennet’s legislation would increase the penalty for stealing prescription drugs to up to 20 years. The measure has bipartisan support; 14 Democrats and 13 Republicans have signed on so far.
Jones has lost $10,000 worth of prescription drugs, but it could have been much worse.
“I think we’d all feel better if getting these guys off the streets for a longer period of time,” said Jones.
The Drug Enforcement Administration said armed robberies at pharmacies nationwide have risen 80 percent in the last five years.