State Pharmacy Board Considering Rules to Tighten Up Security

August 31, 2018 06:24 PM

The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy is now considering new rules to tighten up security measures after pharmacy robberies continued to spike into 2017.

Just last month, federal prosecutors charged an Indiana man for his role in what investigators describe as a string of pharmacy robberies in the Twin Cities.


Prosecutors say Michael White was part of a robbery team that made off with nearly $70,000 in narcotics in one month’s time.

Pharmacy robberies first jumped on the radar screens for authorities back two years ago.

RELATED: Opioid Epidemic Fallout: Minnesota Pharmacy Robberies Double in 2 Years

There was a 94 percent spike in armed robberies at pharmacies – and that pace continued into 2017.

"It’s definitely time to look at the rules," said Cody Wiberg, executive director for the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy.

Wiberg said the numbers, combined with consistent concerns from pharmacists, have led the board to start drafting new rules.

Among the rules under consideration: 

  • Requiring security cameras at eye level – most already have cameras but not all.
  • Adding height charts at doors, much like you see at banks or gas stations.
  • Raising the check out counter.

RELATED: Pharmacist Sentenced for Stealing Drugs from Where He Worked

"The higher the pharmacy counter, the better," Wiberg said. "Maybe there will be a minimum counter height we’ll have to have."

Studies have shown a higher counter with a locked door deters robbers from jumping over and demanding drugs.

The board is also considering a so-called bait bottle – similar to what led police to Addison Thompson Jr. who they said robbed four pharmacies in the area two years ago.

A bait bottle is a fake prescription bottle with a GPS tracker inside.

RELATED: Maple Grove Pharmacist Pleads Guilty to Charges of Stealing Drugs

Time-delayed safes are also being considered as a rule.

"Several minutes may pass, so the robber would literally have to sit there and wait until the safe opens," Wiberg said.

Time-delayed safes are not foolproof. In fact, a similar safe was used in the recent robbery in Edina, and the robber sat and waited patiently until it opened, according to investigators. 

Eventually the proposed rules will go before the board for final approval.


Ryan Raiche

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