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A “significant increase” in the number of local drugstore burglaries has prompted sheriff’s officials to issue a warning to pharmacist, and a plea from pharmacists for stepped-up patrols.

Thieves are breaking into pharmacies looking for narcotics, particularly opioids, and specifically the highly-addictive pain killer Oxycontin, according to one victimized pharmacist.

On Saturday, in the early hours just before the sun came up, burglars smashed the store front glass of a business next to Total Care Pharmacy on Soledad Canyon Road, at Camp Plenty Road, then punched a hole into the drugstore itself and looting it.

On Jan. 20, thieves broke into Newhall Pharmacy by its front door on Main Street near the Newhall Avenue traffic roundabout, stealing some narcotics and other drugs.

“My complaint about law enforcement is that they don’t show up and ask us (pharmacy owners) ‘What can we do for you?’” Newhall Pharmacy owner Moazzem Chowdhury told The Signal Thursday.

Should he be asked such a question by sheriff’s deputies, Chowdhury has an answer for them: “All these break-ins happen at the same time, between 3 and 5 a.m., I would like to see a little patrol car drive by at that time.”

A simple show of police presence could be enough of a deterrent to thwart a potential break-in, he said.

Chowdhury, who ran in the 2014 election for a seat on Santa Clarita City Council, ran on a platform hoping to become a voice for small business owners also concerned about break-ins.

He should know about break-ins, he said, he’s seen 30 break-ins happen at his pharmacies across the SCV over the last 20 years.

After at least 13 break-ins at his pharmacy near the 99 Cents Only Store on Lyons Canyon Road at Wiley Canyon Road, Chowdhury closed up shop there in 2009.

About three years ago, he closed another one of his pharmacies on Soledad Canyon Road, at Shangri-La Drive, near the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library for the same reason.

Chowdhury said he’s been calling for stepped up sheriff’s patrols near pharmacies for the past two years.

The two most recent drugstore break-ins – on Feb. 4 and Jan. 20 – come on the heels of a warning issued last month by Deputy Luis Cabrera for small business owners about an increase in store front burglaries.

“There’s been a significant increase in store front burglaries that have occurred at restaurants, dry cleaners, pharmacies and other businesses,”  Cabrera wrote in his weekly community crime update for Zone 8 covering the neighborhood of Canyon Country East.

His advice to small business owners: “Minimize your loss by doing some simple things.

“Don’t leave any cash in the register,” he said. “If your register is visible from outside, leave the cash drawer open. Do not leave any computers, tablets or laptops unsecure.”

Cabrera urged small business owners to buy and install video surveillance equipment.

“Invest in a good camera system,” he said in his weekly report. “Or contact an alarm company in case your business does get burglarized it will give law enforcement extra information.”


on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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  • K. Hebert

    Unfortunately, the “tips” from Deputy Cabrera, although well intended, do little if any to stop these burglaries. These types of pharmacy burglaries have been going on for decades, just like mail theft. Several factors influence these crimes, but there are two primary reasons:

    1.) The goods the thieves seek are easily attainable. Pharmacies should invest in gun safes and lock the opioid inventory up every single night. Time consuming? Yes. But when the sought item is no longer available, problem solved, because they are not breaking in to steal condoms or cough drops.

    2.) The woes of contract policing. Contract policing has its benefits, but the downside is the nexus to the amount of money the city council wants to spend. For instance; when L.A.S.D. took over policing for the city of Compton, Compton’s police budget was $81,000,000…….L.A.S.D. got the job for a bid of $17,000,000. That is a 75% savings and it gave Compton better resources. But this comes at a cost. Where a car in the County area usually has two deputies in it, in a city contracted car there is only one. This is because it is less expensive for the city. Same applies to different times of the day/night. Where the city may (emphasis on may) pay for more cars during dayshift, the skeleton crew goes out on graveyard.

    Those are the primary reasons but many others influence how crime is deterred e.g.: shift start times, motivation of those who opt to work early morning shift, the intentional disengagement from pro-active police work “answer your calls only” mentality due to the Ferguson effect.

    So in the end, these businesses have to think and operate as if there were no police, because all they are going to do is be reactive and come take a burglary report on days. Or pressure the city council to invest more into their police force. Pony up more money and have L.A.S.D. implement a special team/task force at the station level, dedicated to these crimes.

    Just stay calm and sleep tight under the comfort of reformer McDonnells watch, as when these thugs are committing burglaries at 0-4-dark thirty, the reformer will be thinking what color to change deputies neckties to.

  • Cameron

    The County Board of Supervisors and the City of Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station needs more Jailers. More Custody Assistant position items are long over due. How long are the safety issues going to be ignored and current Jailers exploited? Is it going to take another employee injury/stress leave or inmate death??? Custody Assistants also save money doing the job Deputies used to. Quiet no more for the safety and well being of important people!!!

    • K. Hebert

      Could not agree more Cameron. Typical for the department though. Being a Custody Assistant is a thankless job. Imagine taking a job/career with ZERO opportunity to promote, being there is no rank structure for C.A.s. Your concern, although a legitimate one, really doesn’t play a factor in these thefts though. The best way to understand the silliness that goes on with L.A.S.D. is to recognize they are a big money business. Interfere with the ability of the department to make money, and prepare to be smacked down.

  • Cameron

    The Santa Clarita Station Jail stats are not far off from Pomton Station’s. Oops, I mean Palmdale:)

  • Kriss

    Wait!!!……But crime is dropping in the SCV