There have been more than 1,800 pharmacy robberies nationally over three years, often by young men seeking opioid painkillers and other drugs to sell or feed their own addictions, reports the New York Times. The most common targets are oxycodone (the main ingredient in OxyContin), hydrocodone (the main ingredient in Vicodin) and Xanax. Florida, Indiana, California, Ohio and Washington have had the most armed robberies of pharmacies since January 2008, says the Drug Enforcement Administration. Maine, Oklahoma, and Oregon had the sharpest increases last year.
Some robbers are brazen and desperate. In Rockland, Me., one wielded a machete, leaping over a pharmacy counter to snatch oxycodone, gulping some before he fled. In Satellite Beach, Fl., a robber threatened a pharmacist with a cordless drill, and in North Highlands, Ca., a holdup led to a shootout that left a pharmacy worker dead. Pharmacists have tighten security measures, upgrading surveillance cameras and some installing bulletproof glass and counters high enough to keep would-be robbers from jumping them. In Tulsa, where there was a steep increase in drugstore robberies last year, one pharmacist now requires customers to be buzzed in the door.