Valley pharmacy owners under siege, gang members stealing prescription cough medicine

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The pharmacist-- who did not want her name used says thieves seeking cough medicine with codeine are making her life miserable. (KFSN)

The pharmacist-- who did not want her name used says thieves seeking cough medicine with codeine are making her life miserable.

She is not alone, 13 Fresno pharmacies have been burglarized in the past four weeks. Most were after the cough medicine which contains codeine, a narcotic opiate.

"Yes, mostly cough syrup it's called Phengren with Codeine or Promethazine with Codeine and it's in a rap song, and it's cheap to buy and expensive on the street and it's sad."

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says gang members out of Compton and LA are suspected. Six were arrested for pharmacy burglaries in Visalia and Sanger.

"It is very lucrative to steal that cough syrup and sell it on the street upwards of $600 to $800 a bottle," said Dyer.

The robberies are occurring between 1 and 4 a.m. Thieves are inside for only a couple of minutes. Police are stepping up patrols and stores are being urged to increase security.

"We definitely want to bring this problem to the attention of the public and to our business community too, so they can look for various ways to harden the target," said Burke Farah.

In response, pharmacies are reducing or eliminating their stocks of cough medicine and opiates to avoid being targets.

"It's not just the cost of the medicine that's stolen it's the cost of repairing everything and it's the cost of waking up at night worrying if you are going to get a call or not,"

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