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CVS employee calls for better security as police investigate four weekend robbery attempts

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 23, 2015)– An Indianapolis CVS pharmacy employee is calling on the company to make big changes in their stores in order to discourage robbery attempts. The woman, who does not want to be identified, says she has been through five robberies and two robbery attempts at her job. She has personally been handed a robbery demand note while working at the pharmacy counter.

“It always starts as a list of drugs,” she said, recalling a recent robbery note.  “Toward the end of the note, it says ‘this is a robbery, I have a gun, I’ll kill everybody in here.’”

The employee says she and her coworkers are constantly on edge, never knowing when the next robbery attempt may happen.

“Every person who walks through the door in a hoodie, you want to say ‘is this that guy,’” she said.  “Oh no, here it goes.  You get that sick feeling.  And when you have to turn your back to get a medication off the shelf, you have to look over your shoulder.”

Her concerns follow another rash of CVS pharmacy robbery attempts over the weekend.  On Saturday, robbery attempts were reported at CVS locations in the 2300 block of East 46th Street, the 6500 block of North Keystone Avenue and the 6200 block of Allisonville Road.  All three northeast side incidents happened between 12:40 and 1:50pm.  In each case, employees told police a male between the ages of 18 and 20 approached the pharmacy counter and presented a note, demanding several prescription pain killers.  Only one of the robbery attempts was successful.  One attempt was thwarted when a security guard approached the suspect and he ran out the door.  In another attempt, the suspect left the store empty handed when the pharmacist simply refused to accept the note.

A fourth CVS robbery attempt was reported Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m. in the 7200 block of North Michigan Road.  A male suspect in his 20s approached the pharmacy counter and presented a note that listed several prescription painkillers.  The rest of the note said “This is a robbery!  I am armed!  Do not push button or I’ll shoot you!  Give everything!  No trackers!”

The suspect in that incident also left empty handed when the pharmacist got on the phone to call police.

While three of the four robbery attempts were thwarted, the CVS employee we spoke to says the company needs to take steps to discourage people from even attempting the robberies.

“I mean there`s things they can do as a company to secure the safety of their employees and at least take part of the anxiety level off of us,” she said.

Michael DeAngelis, a CVS corporate spokesperson, sent a statement in response to the recent robberies:

“The safety and well-being of our customers and employees is our highest priority and we work closely with law enforcement in their investigations of robbery incidents.  We have security policies and procedures in place at all of our stores and we regularly review them to ensure effectiveness, including hi-def security cameras and security guard presence at select locations. We do not comment on specific security measures because we do not want to undermine them. We are committed to ensuring that CVS/pharmacy remains a safe environment for our customers to shop and fill their prescriptions.”

The CVS employee says the company needs to remodel their older stores to make working conditions safer for employees.  She says pharmacy counters should be protected behind bulletproof safety glass, security guards should be posted at all locations from open until close, and popular narcotics should be stored in special safes behind the safety glass.

Steve Dubois, of Central Indiana Crime Stoppers doesn’t know if bulletproof glass is the answer.  He believes it could get in the way of the personal interaction between a pharmacist and a customer.  But he also thinks CVS and other pharmacies need to constantly be analyzing their security measures and store layouts.

“So that industry has to create something,” Dubois said.  “They have to get something in between, where they can still have that interaction but they keep their pharmacists and their people safe.”

Dubois also points out that people who are addicted to prescription painkillers, and those who make their money from illegally selling them, will stop at nothing to get them.

“You could probably have an armed policeman in some of these places, and there’s still going to be a robbery,” Dubois said.  “And there’s going to be that confrontation between the policeman and the armed robber.”

Metro police are still investigating the weekend robbery attempts.  It’s not clear if all the incidents were the work of the same suspect, but detectives always investigate possible connections between cases.