Pharmacies nationwide are under attack from criminals, according to a survey published this week by The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU).
The Crime Survey 2017 reveals that four out of five pharmacies (79%) have been the victim of crime within the last year including shoplifting, break-ins and raids.
Unless there is increased Garda visibility and tougher sentencing to deter crime against pharmacies, according to the IPU, the level of crime will continue to increase with serious ramifications for employers, staff and local communities.
Worryingly, almost one-third of cases were described as violent and/or involved the use of a weapon. A knife was used in 77% of robberies or raids where a weapon was present and a gun was present in 8% of these cases.
The research also shows that crimes against pharmacies are not isolated incidents, with 81% of victims reporting having experienced two or more incidents during 2017.
MORE VISIBLE POLICING NEEDED
The research also found that: 89% of pharmacies who were victims of crime experienced shoplifting and 17% a break-in; The number of pharmacists who experienced a raid, at 13%, was up considerably on last year (6%), which highlights the ongoing threat that remains; 73% reported the case to the Gardaí, with 79% happy that their case was dealt with effectively/adequately; Almost half of pharmacists (45%) who decided not to report a crime did so because they felt the perpetrator would not be charged. 23% had no confidence in the Garda response; 97% invested in CCTV to protect their staff and their businesses; and, in one in four cases (25%), controlled or prescribed drugs were taken, while cash was taken in 21% of cases. In 11% of cases, over-the-counter drugs were taken. Cosmetics (87%) and fake tan (40%) are the most likely items to be shoplifted from pharmacies.
Respondents to the survey identified more visible policing (93%), faster Garda response (85%) and tougher sentencing (87%) as the most effective methods for reducing crime.