What crims use to hold up chemists

A UK pharmacy magazine has listed the strangest – and most common – items used by criminals in pharmacy robberies

Chemist + Druggist completed an exclusive investigation into pharmacy crime in the UK, based on freedom of information requests to every police authority in the country (ten, including London’s Metropolitan Police, did not supply their data).

The investigation brought to light some unusual weapon choices: a “bag with a bottle inside” in Cumbria; a “gun-shaped lighter” and a “stone” in Norfolk; two metal bars in Durham and pepper spray in Humberside.

West Mercia Police records showed a golf umbrella was used in one incident where robbers attempted to create “fear or provocation of violence” in their effort to steal makeup and sanitary items.

West Mercia Police also revealed that walking sticks were used in two crimes (contrast this with an incident in Sydney in 2016 in which pharmacy staff bravely turned walking sticks on a robber).

In Devon and Cornwall, hammers and bricks were used to smash pharmacy windows; hammers were also used in crimes across Durham, Staffordshire and Cleveland.

In South Yorkshire, criminals used a wide variety of weapons: including a can, an unbroken bottle, a “garden implement” and a hypodermic needle or syringe.

And screwdrivers were used in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Bedfordshire.

Around the country, criminals also used their bare hands or their feet in several incidents; a handgun, shotgun and penknife were used in other incidents.

Knives or blades were used on five occasions in Northern Ireland, including in one case where a pharmacy worker received a serious injury.

C+D’s investigation revealed that West Yorkshire suffered the most crimes against pharmacy, with 1,304 incidents in 2016.

While 1,096 of these cases were shoplifting, 37 were violent crime, including three incidents of arson.

Northern Ireland came in as the second most dangerous place to practise pharmacy, with 28 cases of “violence against a person”.

There were 291 cases of violent crime against pharmacies across the country.

Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire CEO Ruth Buchan told C+D that “pharmacists are really aware of the potential for crime against their pharmacy, by the very nature of what we do”.

Read C+D’s full report here.

Pharmacists who are distressed can contact the Pharmacists’ Support Service on 1300 244 910.

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