Concern Growing Over Crimes At Pharmacies

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From Wednesday's armed robbery at the Mid-Michigan physicians building to the Rite Aid homicide last month, area pharmacies are seeing an increase in violent crimes. It's no surprise to those who work in the field or local law enforcement.

Yellow tape and flashing lights are a troubling sight for Ken Fagerman a leading expert on criminal events at pharmacies, who works as a pharmacist in Muskegon County.

"We've seen a steady increase in the nature and type of violence," Fagerman said.

Pharmacies have been getting caught in the crosshairs of crimes for years.

"Faking prescriptions, stolen prescription pads calling in fake prescriptions," Fagerman, an Independent Pharmacist listed.

But Fagerman, who has studied over 100 crime at pharmacies, says recent armed robberies and increasing prescription fraud are a cause for concern. The Michigan Pharmacists Association agrees. They recently sent their members a 13-page report on criminal events at pharmacies and ways to improve safety.

Fagerman says Wednesday's incident at the Mid-Michigan physician's building adds a new type of threat.

"I've never heard of a bomb being used as a threat as a weapon so this is a highly unusual and very disturbing," he said.

Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth says he's noticed this increase in violence.

"People are getting bolder their needs are greater and they're pulling these things," Sheriff Wriggelsworth added.

Sheriff Wriggelsworth says Wednesday's incident is one of a few escalating events that happened in the area.

Ricard Taylor is facing seven charges in connection with last month's homicide at the Rite Aid in Lansing. Gary Wilcox was arrested after a high speed chase in 2012 in relation to a string of armed robberies at pharmacies in Ingham and Livingston counties.

"In the cases we've been involved in they've all been people who were addicts that were stealing drugs to get high on," Sheriff Wriggelsworth added.

While tightening security is important, law enforcement and pharmacists agree a key part to stopping the violence is working together.

"There are a number of things that we can do that work together and we learn from each other when we cooperate fully with the police and in an organized fashion," Fagerman added.

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