The assailants, often addicted to the powerful painkillers they are seeking, employ guns, knives and even bomb threats to rob the pharmacies.
The state of Washington is one of several hot spots around the country for pharmacy crime. In the last three years in the state, there have been more than 200 reported robberies where controlled substances were taken, according to the Seattle division of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The organization does not compile national statistics on pharmacy robberies, a DEA spokesman said. But RXPatrol, a collaboration of pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma and law enforcement agencies, listed nearly 2,000 robberies nationwide in the seven years the group has kept track of the holdups.
Pharmacies voluntarily report the robberies to RXPatrol, so the true number of crimes is probably much higher, said Capt. Rich Conklin of the Stamford, New Jersey, Police Department, who advises drugstores on how to deal with the robberies. Nationwide, the majority of drugstore robbers are white males who are in their 20s and hooked on painkillers.