Does crime caught on camera make a difference?


A bomb exploded in the sporting goods department in the big box store where I worked.

The noise was shattering. Walls shook in the pharmacy.

Plaques and certificates rattled but did not fall.

Everyone in the store was surprised, scared, and shocked.

No one was hurt.

A shopper, perhaps male, had rigged up a package of campfire starter fuel next to a display of small propane tanks.

It all happened several (maybe four?) years ago.

Video surveillance cameras caught everything.

The images were unclear, not sharp, and no suspect was ever apprehended.

That same video equipment still “protects” us today.

Every day an estimated 2,500 teenagers abuse prescription medication for the first time.


Prescription drug abuse is a serious public health problem and has led to a national increase in pharmacy crime. MSNBC says it has reached epidemic proportions.

Last year(September 2011), I wrote an article for about pharmacy crime. It can be found HERE.

One of the “big pharma” companies, Purdue Pharma L.P. is concerned. Purdue has created RxPATROL®. It is the first and only national database that tracks, analyzes, and provides information on pharmacy crime to law enforcement and the retail pharmacy community.

We recently had the opportunity to submit questions to an RxPatrol’s® panel of experts. Our questions and the answers from the panelists follow.

Panelists were members of Purdue Pharma L.P.’s Law Enforcement Liaison & Education (LELE) program that offers pharmaceutical diversion training to police and sheriffs’ departments, college campus police departments and crime prevention and safety training to pharmacists, and allied healthcare professionals.

The RxPATROL® program sends alerts about incidents that have occurred in your area as well as resources that can help you deter and solve pharmacy crime. Working with anti-crime organizations such as CrimeStoppers, the program also offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to arrests for pharmacy crime. Tips can be made anonymously and have led to more than 100 arrests.

For more information, visit and be sure to follow RxPATROL on Twitter at

Here are highlights from an interview with the panelists:

1. Are studies available to support the use of armed, uniformed security in or near the Rx Dept. of big box retailers — and grocery stores?

Some studies suggest that target hardening (e.g. security guard, security equipment, etc.) has reduced the risk of robbery for banks and retail stores.

2. CVS, Walgreens, and the big boxes all seemed convinced that video cameras are the way to go. How do they provide any degree of PREVENTIVE help?

The presence of overt video cameras serves to warn a possible assailant that he/she is being recorded.

It may affect the assailant’s intent of targeting that particular place of business. Of the pharmacy robberies reported to RxPatrol, 90 percent of the pharmacies did not have a video surveillance system in place. In addition to prevention, cameras are an important investigative tool that law enforcement can rely upon for evidence and for a good description of the suspect(s).

3. Survey’s I’ve seen indicate that shoppers prefer to shop in a safe environment. Do you think we will soon see retailers advertising that they offer a “safer place to shop”?

We have not seen these surveys so we cannot offer an informed opinion.

4. Certain areas of the U.S. still experience a shortage of pharmacists. Some skeptics argue that every pharmacy that stocks oxycodone creates a “bad part of town.” Do your studies see any connection?

Our data and professional experience does not support this point of view. Crime has no borders.

The “opportunity” to commit a crime is the major factor in the target of the crime. For this reason,

RxPatrol encourages situational crime prevention, through the use of safes, alarms, video surveillance etc. Visit to view instructional videos, pharmacy crime tips and to learn more about how to make your business a harder target.

5. What is RxPatrol doing to encourage retailers to create safer environments in which to work and shop?

By providing information about current national and local pharmacy crime trends, creating an atmosphere of awareness and providing safety strategies and tools, RxPatrol helps pharmacists empower themselves to protect their environment.

Some of these resources include:

RxPATROL Twitter feed that tweets tips, reward offers and the most recent incidents captured in the system so that local pharmacies can be on alert.

Training videos that walk pharmacists through the process of making their store a harder target and what to do should a crime occur.

Posters and decals for placement in the stores informing would-be assailants that pharmacy crime is punishable by a lengthy prison sentence.

In addition to RxPATROL, Purdue Pharma makes our Law Enforcement Liaison Education program available to pharmacists and law enforcement. This program is comprised of experienced former narcotics officers/agents who teach classes about how the pharmacy community can identify drug diversion schemes and help make their pharmacy a harder target for crime.


Please click the book cover image to read more about FCEtier and his novels.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    I guess cameras do a lot of good in tracking down the bad guys, Chip, but I see a lot of video footage on TV news, and I couldn’t recognized any faces from the images. Maybe their primary function is to simply prevent crooks from stealing.

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