Fresno Police on high alert after more than a dozen pharmacies burglarized

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Rubio says most thieves are after medicine that contains codeine -- an opiate narcotic that acts as heroin. (KFSN)

It may look like ordinary prescription cough syrup but it has become so popular for recreational use that pharmacies are re-thinking the way they do business.

"Because of all the break-ins I've kept my inventory for controlled medications very very low," said Pharmacist Carolina Rubio Mondragon.

Rubio says most thieves are after medicine that contains codeine, an opiate narcotic that acts as heroin.

"Every medication in this pharmacy is under my responsibility. So the fact that we're having people that are breaking in and steal these drugs is very scary for me," said Rubio Mondragon.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the Valley are seeing a rash of pharmacy break-ins -- usually occurring between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.

A law enforcement map shows 15 burglaries since mid-August in Fresno alone. For the first time Tuesday, two thieves seeking painkillers robbed a Fresno Walgreens during normal business hours.

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"They went in displayed the handgun with a garbage bag with them they loaded up the garbage bag with narcotics as well as the cough syrup and made a getaway," said Chief Jerry Dyer.

Police are stepping up patrols and stores are being urged to increase security, but according to authorities stealing cough syrup can be very lucrative for thieves

"The Promethazine Syrup that can sell for $600 to $700 per bottle," said Rubio Mondragon.

In response, some pharmacies have invested in roll-down security doors like these to prevent would-be thieves from stealing their inventory

"It's been really really scary. I go home every night hoping we're not going to have a break in."

Related Topics:
pharmaceuticalsburglaryfresno police departmentFresno County
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