Indiana continues to lead U.S. in pharmacy robberies

Indiana hasn't been able to shed its designation as the No. 1 state for pharmacy robberies despite some measures meant to protect the businesses.

Indiana Board of Pharmacy president Donna Wall said the state had a total of 175 pharmacy robberies in 2015, with 132 of them in Marion County. There were more pharmacy robberies in Indiana last year than California, which has a population about six times larger.

Members of the Governor's Task Force on Drug Enforcement met Tuesday to discuss the state's troubling statistics, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Indiana Pharmacists Alliance executive vice president Randy Hitchens said he frequently fields calls from concerned pharmacists and has little solace to offer.

"We feel a little weak," Hitchens said. "We scratch our heads about what we can do."

In 2015, 17 Marion County pharmacies were robbed three times, four were robbed five times and three were robbed four times.

There have been 64 pharmacy robberies so far in 2016. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Craig McCart said the department believes the fact that it has seen only 43 pharmacy robberies since January is a relative success.

Many stores have taken measures to improve security by adding armed guards. Some have also housed the most desired medications, such as opioids, in time-release safes.

But Wall said the increased security sometimes causes people to target different locations.

"As security measures in Marion County are ramping up, they're going out to other places," Wall said.

McCart said that whenever police in other nearby cities such as Kokomo, Danville or Muncie identify a pharmacy robbery suspect, the person is usually from Indianapolis.

"They're fairly sophisticated," McCart said. "Right now, we're having some degree of success. But it's still obviously a huge problem."

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