CRIME IS A major problem for Irish pharmacists, who say they have been targeted by shoplifters and suffered violent attacks.
The Irish Pharmacy Union held its annual pharmacy crime survey for 2015, which showed that of the 120 pharmacies surveyed:
- Cosmetics and fake tan are the most likely items to be shoplifted from pharmacies
- Three out of four pharmacies were victims of crime, including shoplifting, robbery and raids.
- 84% of these experienced two or more incidents
- 18% described the incident as ‘violent’
- In a third of cases where there was a robbery or a raid the perpetrators had a weapon, with a gun used in 46% and a knife in 45% of these cases.
- One in five incidents described as ‘violent’
- The vast majority of pharmacies were victims of more than one crime.
They say that tougher sentencing and a more visible Garda presence required to address the scourge of crime against pharmacies.
The findings from the Survey were described by IPU Vice-President Daragh Connolly as “extremely worrying” and “unacceptable”. He said he was particularly concerned at the level of violent crimes against pharmacy staff.
“It is difficult enough to run a pharmacy in the current environment without being the target for criminal activity that not only has a significant cost factor but more importantly has a detrimental impact on pharmacy staff who are subjected to these incidents,” said Connolly.
“It is unacceptable that pharmacy owners and their staff are viewed as ‘soft targets’ where the probability of repeat offences is high and the risk of apprehension and penalty is low.”
The research also found that:
- 79% reported the case to the Gardaí, with 69% happy that their case was dealt with effectively/adequately.
- Nearly half of pharmacists (47%) who decided not to report a crime did so because they felt the perpetrator would not be charged.
- 94% invested in CCTV to protect their staff and their businesses.
- In one in five cases (21%), cash was taken
- In 13% of cases, over-the-counter drugs were taken and controlled drugs in 10% of cases.
Connolly said that pharmacists who have been victims of crime “say they are sick and tired of the revolving door approach”, with many complaining that even when the criminals are caught they are not sufficiently penalised.
He said that a “no tolerance approach” from the judiciary and the Gardaí is needed, along with tougher sentencing and a more visible Garda presence required.
Respondents to the survey identified more visible policing, faster Garda response and tougher sentencing as the most effective methods of reducing crime.