Opioids, Safety & Security

3 Tips to Prevent Pharmacy Robberies

Illustration of 3 pharmacists with a security icon and checklist
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Reviewed by Detective Constable Allan Dean, Peel Regional Police.

Over the last several months, the occurrence of robberies in pharmacies seems to be escalating. While there is no one action that can prevent a robbery, there are steps pharmacies can take to decrease the risk and protect staff and property. Pharmacies are encouraged to work with their community partners, including police, to assist with deterring offences and contributing to a successful resolution of investigations.

Pharmacy Connection, in collaboration with Peel Regional Police, is sharing three tips to help pharmacies prevent robberies:

Make Your Pharmacy a Less Attractive Target

Security camera icon

By reducing or removing the crime opportunity, pharmacies can decrease the risk of being a victim of a robbery.

Pharmacy Design and Security

  • Assess the overall design of the pharmacy and security features. Window protection, locked doors, locked cabinets/drawers, video surveillance and a narcotic safe are recommended. Maintain proper lighting, both inside and outside the pharmacy.
  • If the pharmacy is located in a larger retail space, the dispensary should be on a separate alarm zone.

Video Surveillance

  • Consider using a quality security system that could alert management to issues when no one is onsite, alert authorities if a robbery occurs while staff are onsite, and help in identifying a subject should there be a robbery or attempted robbery. Select the right number of cameras to properly capture the pharmacy and ensure at least two staff are trained on how to use and review video surveillance.

Staff Training and Behaviour

  • Evaluate policies and procedures for staff training and behaviour, including ensuring staff understand they should not discuss pharmacy security procedures with anyone outside of the pharmacy. Provide staff with robbery prevention training and ensure periodic reviews and information refreshers are shared.

Secure and Safeguard Controlled Substances

Pill bottle with lock on it

Pharmacy professionals have certain responsibilities to ensure all controlled substance are securely stored and maintained, and all appropriate measures are taken to reduce the opportunities for diversion and manage any losses that are identified. Pharmacies should consider installing a safe and assess if controlled substances inventory can be kept to a minimum and ordered just in time for prescription preparation.

Regardless of practice setting, there are key expectations that pharmacy professionals and pharmacy managers must meet to prevent diversion, and to safely control and dispense controlled substances.

It is the responsibility of pharmacy professionals to ensure they are meeting all applicable legislation, standards and policies. The College’s Controlled Substances Practice Tool provides a list of resources to help pharmacy professionals navigate and comply with the relevant legislation governing controlled substances.

Ask for Help & Collaborate with Experts

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Many police departments have programs or contacts that specifically support business owners in preventing robberies from occurring in their establishments. Designated pharmacy managers should establish a link with their local police department and access any resources available to help in protecting the pharmacy and pharmacy staff. In addition to accessing online resources of their local police department, police may be willing to visit pharmacies and provide recommendations on how to enhance the safety of staff and inventory.

There are also professional security firms and consultants that can be hired to provide specialized recommendations for the pharmacy and there may be tools and technology available, including GPS tracking, that can support the tracking and apprehension of controlled substances should a robbery occur.

Key Takeaway

Robbery prevention can start with assessing and incorporating these three tips into your pharmacy setting, as appropriate. Creating a forum for open dialogue within your pharmacy teams on robbery prevention and ensuring teams have critically evaluated and addressed the risks at their pharmacies will help keep staff and patients safe.

Pharmacy Safety Initiative

The College has re-engaged with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to support the Pharmacy Safety Initiative the College supported in 2018. With the goal of minimizing pharmacy robberies and keeping staff and patients safe, the initiative aims to ensure appropriate resources, tools and supports are available to pharmacy teams to assess and safeguard their environments.

References and Resources
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Download the “3 Tips to Prevent Pharmacy Robberies” checklist

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