Pharmacy robberies on the rise in Houston area

April 13, 2012 3:58:18 PM PDT
Pharmacy thieves after pain killers are caught on camera. Harris County Sheriff's deputies and drug enforcement agents want to find them.

We first told you about the break-ins earlier this week. Now we're learning there are a lot more of them. And the thieves may be trying to sell the pills to your children.

Investigators say there have been nearly 20 pharmacy thefts around the Houston area since January. Area pharmacies have been the target of thieves looking for highly addictive painkillers, which law enforcement officers believe will end up in area schools. At least once, two of the suspects were caught on camera.

One by one, the drug store thieves spill into an Atascocita Walgreens, scouring the pharmacy for powerful painkillers. They are in and out in two minutes.

"What it's telling me is they have some information on how these pharmacies are set up," said Lt. Jeff Stauber.

The suspect knows exactly where to go, as he fills up his pharmacy basket full of Oxycontin and Hydrocodone in liquid and pill form.

"It was almost like he was shopping to fill a shopping list," Lt. Stauber said.

This burglary is far from isolated. Since January 1, 2012, 18 Walgreens pharmacies have been hit in the greater Houston area. They're shattering the drive-through pharmacy windows and crawling through.

The trending crime also concerns the DEA, which fears the drugs will end up in area schools.

"When you look at the age of pharmaceutical abuse, you have individuals who are in middle school," said Houston DEA agent Sharnett Latimore. "Of course high schools and colleges, so yes, we do understand that it takes place."

Wearing torn t-shirts on their faces, they steal several thousands of dollars worth of Hydrocodone and Oxycontin. One was even sporting a Colts cap.

In the end the thieves get away in a large white van -- all telling clues investigators believe will help identify the drug store thieves.

"Someone along the line knows who these individuals are and we want them to come forward," Lt. Stauber said.

DEA also says overdose deaths related to pharmaceuticals are increasing and have been at a high level for a number of years.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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