PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — Business owners in western Kentucky are expressing concern after a series of burglaries and robberies at pharmacies in the region.

Eddie Nickell, who owns Lyon Drugs in Eddyville, told The Paducah Sun burglars broke into the pharmacy in October and again last month.

"We went about 20 years without one, and now we've had two in three months," he said. "Everything worked like it was supposed to, but he was in and out in just a very short time."

Several pharmacies in the area have reported thefts or attempted thefts over the last few months.

Law enforcement authorities say the region is not alone — pharmacies across the nation are reporting more thefts.

Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rusty Payne says pain medicine and stimulants are the most common medications taken.

"It's a problem because the addiction rates are significant," Payne said. "There's a lot of money in it, so you have desperate addicts, and you have organized criminal activity going on."

Kelly Whitaker, the pharmacist at Gibson's Pharmacy in Mayfield, said burglaries there have led to upgraded security changes, including a vault.

"Unless they stay all night next time, I don't think they're going to get in," she said.

Paducah Police detective Matt Smith said many times burglars are able to take what they came for in only a few minutes.

"It's not hard to hit a pharmacy and get $50,000 worth of pharmaceuticals, street value," he said, noting that prescription pills are "in high demand."

"It's no secret there are a lot of people out there dealing with these (addiction) issues, and they've made drug stores their target to get their next fix."

Rick Conklin, a Stamford, Conn., police officer runs a website called RxPatrol to help train police and pharmacists to be better prepared.

He says some burglars will "come in and lower themselves on a rope 'Mission: Impossible'-style so they don't set off alarms.

He tells pharmacists to secure narcotics in a locking cabinet or vault.

"You wouldn't have that kind of money lying around without putting it in a vault," he said.


Information from: The Paducah Sun,


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