Rise in drugstore break-ins prompts call for stepped up patrols


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.”


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