This article was previously published on February 19, 2015 and updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy. 

Safeguarding medications and other vital items against potential theft and fraud is a fundamental responsibility of all pharmacies. Throughout the 2010s, the number of armed robberies against pharmacies has remained considerably high, and there’s reason to assume these numbers will remain consistent for the foreseeable future.

Pharmacies are prime targets for theft due a wide assortment of prescription and non-prescription medications, which are then utilized for personal use or sold on the black market. However, other popular items like baby formula, make-up, and razor blades are common targets for would-be criminals.

An aggressive security strategy is essential to protect products, employees, and help keep costs low. Here’s what you can do the help keep your pharmacy secure.

1. Secure Your Pharmacy with Intrusion Alarms and Video

Utilize advanced security technology to discourage potential thieves from targeting your store. A monitored alarm system is a good place to start. Intrusion systems can notify you and authorities quickly if someone attacks your pharmacy after business hours.

However, it alone won’t deter all criminals. Police response times vary widely based on area and number of emergencies, among other factors, giving criminals opportunities to carry out  short attacks, leaving before law enforcement arrives.

But when paired with video surveillance technology, you’re far more likely to deter potential attackers. Since many perpetrators will scout the pharmacy days before striking, video surveillance can help you detect suspicious behavior before a criminal strike. Likewise, video footage can help investigators identify the suspects after an attack.

2. Guard Highly Targeted Medications and Products with Access Control

Medications like OxyContin, Adderall, Xanax, and Suboxone are among the highest abused prescription medications in the country, making them likely targets for both users and sellers. Locking highly coveted medications like painkillers behind access control panels can prevent thieves from a making a quick and easy stash and grab. It’s an extra layer of protection and you’re last line of defense.

Access control systems require a specific access key or biometric scan. Each employee has a unique credential that grants them access to specific medicine cabinets. In addition, access control solutions log the time each employee opens the cabinets. So, if you face internal theft issues, access control can help you narrow down suspects and help mitigate the threat  altogether.

It’s also important to remember that access control systems are not limited to medical cabinets. You can use them restrict access to certain parts of your pharmacy or use them to protect other highly targeted items in the store. Razor blades are a common example, as they have a surprisingly high black market appeal.

3. Have a Response Plan

Having a well-defined and rapid response plan in place for potential pharmacy robberies is of paramount. In the face of an armed attack, preparedness and training is the key to mitigating risks and ensuring the safety of both employees and customers.

These events happen quickly, so it is important all employees understand:

  • To remain calm and don’t attack/disarm the robber.
  • Notify authorities immediately—i.e. through a panic button during the attack or calling them after the robber leaves.
  • Report the incident through the chain of command, i.e., manager, owner, etc.
  • Follow the appropriate response steps, such as closing the store, not touching evidence, ensuring the safety of patrons, calling emergency services if necessary, and getting video footage ready for authorities.

A well-executed response helps protect the well-being of everyone present in the pharmacy, reducing the chances of violence or escalation during a robbery. Ultimately, preparedness can turn a potentially life-threatening situation into a manageable one, safeguarding both the physical safety and emotional well-being of all involved.

4. Partner with an Experienced Security Provider

Partnering with an experienced security company like Vector Security is an indispensable step for pharmacies looking to fortify their defenses against the unique threats their stores face. Our team brings a host of benefits, including specialized security expertise, advanced technology, and proactive monitoring to safeguard your pharmacy’s assets and integrity.

Vector Security possesses a deep understanding of the unique security challenges pharmacies encounter. We can help prevent prescription drug theft and fraud and protect other key items in your store. Our specialized approach involves finely-tuned security solution tailored to your pharmacy's needs. We are here to ensure your pharmacy is one step ahead of any would-be criminals. For more information, contact us today.