After two pharmacies were robbed in as many days, the Calgary Police Service issued a warning about the incidents on Friday.
On Nov. 17, two suspects entered the dispensary area of the Walmart Pharmacy at 1212 37 Street S.W. at around 11 a.m.
The suspects confronted staff with a knife and demanded drugs. The two fled the store with a number of items in a black Adidas duffle bag.
Police said both suspects are thought to be between 16 and 18 years old and are around five-foot-nine with slim builds.
Both were wearing black clothing and a blue surgical-style face mask and white gloves.
On Nov. 18, four suspects ran into the Pharmasave at 79 Martindale Blvd. N.E., yelling at staff and customers to get on the ground at around 8:15 p.m.
Two of the suspects were carrying guns and demanded staff open the drug safe. Police said an employee was kicked and pistol-whipped by one of the suspects.
The four were able to get drugs and cash and ran out the back of the building to a waiting vehicle.
Police described all four suspects as 16 or 17 years old and all were wearing black clothing, face masks and carrying black backpacks.
Twitter under investigation for allegedly setting up illegal bedrooms in company HQ
Alberta NDP says Premier Danielle Smith’s rejection of federal authority lays separation groundwork
Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to police at 403-266-1234. Tips can also be shared anonymously through Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or online.
A warning for pharmacy staff
Police are warning pharmacy staff of what officers are calling an “ongoing crime trend of pharmacy robberies” occurring in Calgary.
“Similar robberies are also taking place at cannabis stores and cellphone stores at a growing rate and these types of robberies have become increasingly violent over time,” Staff Sgt. Rob Harbidge said.
“These events have a damaging impact on the victims, businesses, and citizens present while a crime is in progress, and we are asking for the public’s help to notify police when they see suspicious or criminal behaviour.”
In 2021 alone, police have been called to 80 pharmacies in Calgary.
In most cases, armed suspects approach staff, rush behind counters and demand access to secured drugs and cash.
Pharmacy owners and staff are encouraged to:
- Trust your instincts. If you witness suspicious behaviour, contact police.
- Minimize the amount of cash and drugs readily available on site.
- Keep safes locked at all times.
- Utilize a panic alarm for employees.
- Place height strip tape on the interior side of the main entrance door.
- Keep any doors separating the pharmacy from the store locked.
- CCTV Tips:
- Test your cameras to make sure they are working.
- Ensure the quality of the image(s) is sufficient for identifying suspects.
- Have purposeful focus.
- Position at least one camera to have a level line of sight of patrons.
- Ensure staff can access video content at any time and if possible, move the video to a cloud-based storage. After an event, this footage will be required as soon as possible for descriptions.
If a robbery does occur, the CPS says to call 9-1-1 immediately and lock the doors to the business after the suspect or suspects leave to preserve any evidence.
Citizens are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings while shopping and taking notice of any suspicious behaviour and if anyone spots suspicious behaviour — especially people behind employee counters, concealed people running out of stores, or you think a crime is happening — go to a safe location to notify staff or call police.