When Deb Marron read reports about several local pharmacy robberies in the newspaper recently, she thought, “We’re next”
Unfortunately, she was right. On the weekend, the Thuringowa Drive Discount Drug Store was robbed by a man wielding a knife as Marron looked on.
“There were three staff on, it was a quiet Saturday morning and we’d only been open an hour and a half,” Marron, the co-owner of the store, told the AJP.
“We had one customer in the store who had come in to pick up a medicine pack. The young girl at the counter was on the phone at the time, so I went to serve the customer and to get medicine from the fridge.
“While I was out the back, I heard somebody with a deep voice yelling. You do get a few loud, obnoxious customers of course, but this sounded just a little bit too close.
“I wasn’t out the back very long, and when I came out he was standing there with a knife to [the pharmacy assistant’s] back, making her get money out of the till and put it in a bag he had unzipped on the bench.”
Marron says that the thief, who did not ask for drugs, was in the store for a total of one minute.
She said that the man opened one of two tills on the counter using its keys, which were in the drawer, with his T-shirt over his hand.
He then “rounded up” the staff member with the knife and told her to take the money from the till.
“I was standing right behind them thinking, ‘He’s going to want the drugs. I’m next,” Marron says.
“But he didn’t. He just ran.”
Several passers-by gave chase, during which time the man removed a T-shirt he had wrapped around his head to conceal his face. One of his pursuers managed to snap a photo.
Marron says her pharmacy is the fourth in the area to be robbed recently, but she thinks that the incident on the weekend may be unrelated to the others because the thief did not ask for drugs.
“The Belgian Gardens pharmacy was hit, the pharmacy at Mt Louisa, and one of the girls said another one was hit too. I read about all this in the papers and thought, ‘We’re next’.
“You do feel like a bit of a sitting duck. There’s nothing you can do though, short of having bodyguards at the door – even a duress alarm’s not going to help when he was only in there for a minute.
“It’s a bit scary. You’re just at work, doing your thing, you think you’re safe, but you’re not.”
Marron says that the staff, including the 21-year-old pharmacy assistant threatened with the knife, were unhurt, and that regular customers have come in to express their concern for the staff since.
Queensland Police are looking for a man described as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in appearance, about 180cm tall with a slim build, who was wearing a long sleeve shirt and dark shorts.
Pharmacists can contact the Pharmacists’ Support Service on 1300 244 910 if you are feeling distressed.