A $75 million heist at a pharmaceutical warehouse in Connecticut this week illustrates what the Associated Press calls a growing phenomenon: Thieves stealing large quantities of prescription drugs for resale on the black market. Pharmaceutical thefts in the U.S. have quadrupled since 2006, estimates a coalition of industry and law-enforcement. The reasons include spotty security and high drug prices that make such crimes extremely lucrative.
This week’s theft from an Eli Lilly & Co. warehouse is the largest of its kind on record and attests to the growing sophistication of such crimes. Authorities say thieves cut a hole in the roof, lowered themselves into the building on ropes, disabled the alarm system and stole enough drugs to fill a tractor-trailer. The stolen pharmaceuticals included best-selling antidepressants Prozac and Cymbalta. “The people that target the pharmaceutical industry are an organized criminal element,” said Charles Forsaith of drugmaker Purdue Pharma. “This isn’t a couple of guys walking by a warehouse and saying, ‘I’m going to hit that place.’ “