Combatting Pharmaceutical Crime

Choosing the right tools to protect a sensitive, desirable product

As the prescription drug epidemic continues to plague all regions of the US, it's never been a tougher time to be in the business of pharmaceutical security. Statistically, pharmacies have a 14% probability of being the victim of a burglary, robbery, or employee diversion of drugs, according to the Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Co. And, what's more, victims have an 8.6% likelihood of multiple crimes in the same year.

Pharmacy crime takes on multiple forms: Employee theft (including theft perpetrated by remote workers), organized crime, cargo theft, and straightforward armed robbery. While there's no magic bullet to stopping pharmaceutical crime, there are a number of security steps a pharmacy or medication distributor can take to reduce the loss of this valuable, desirable product, which can be fatal once it hits the streets.

Monitor High-Traffic Areas With a Professional Camera System

In 72% of all pharmacy robberies, criminals gain access through standard points of entry like a door or window. By installing a security camera system to cover heavily trafficked areas, security managers are able to document the comings and goings of customers, gathering crucial evidence in the event of medication going missing.

Pharmacies are different from standard home or retail spaces because there isn't a uniform way to lay out a pharmacy; they can exist as standalone stores, they can be sections of a larger store, or they can simply be counters within a smaller store. With the sheer amount of security camera types available on the market, security managers can install systems tailor-made for the space they need to monitor. And, because many camera systems work over a network connection, all of the camera feeds, even camera feeds from separate locations, can be viewed from one centralized location.

Camera types can range from indoor to outdoor models, and accommodate a number of environmentally specific settings. If the pharmacy space has obscured lighting, cameras can be deployed which adjust to different brightnesses. For monitoring outdoor properties, cameras can be installed that feature durable housings that repel wind, dust, and even feature tamper-proof designs that generate alerts when disturbed. Whatever specific conditions you need to adjust to, there is a camera available from leading brands such as ACTi, Panasonic, Sony, Vivotek and many more. And, with easy DIY installation, you won't need to enlist a professional to set your system up.

Cover Pharmacy Blind Spots With Covert Cameras

Pharmacies often contain smaller offices, stockrooms, and employee common areas, not to mention narrow rows of medication. These tighter quarters mean that there are a number of built-in blind spots—areas with no security camera coverage, which can be used to divert medication. Covering blind spots is pivotal to any pharmacy security program because, if blind spots exist, employees and cognizant customers will figure out a way to find them and exploit them.

There is no better way to cover blind spots than covert cameras. With dozens of unique housings, covert cameras can be blended into nearly any environment. Choose from aerial view cameras disguised as smoke detectors, or take a lower angle on a room with an AC adapter camera, for example. Indoor and outdoor models enable you to cover every aspect of a pharmacy from point of sale machines to loading docks.

If you're not sure which concealment type to choose, there are also nondescript black box covert cameras that can be hidden in everyday objects like tissue boxes, or placed in hard-to-access places like air vents. Many hidden cameras, like the Camscura WiFi, can even be connected to a local network, enabling a security manager to live stream a video feed from anywhere with an internet connection as well as receive real-time alerts to any motion.

Covering blind spots is a great way to crack down on employee theft, shoplifting, cargo theft, and other common forms of pharmacy crime.

GPS Trackers Always Keep Tabs on Medication Location

Shipments getting lost in transit, medication going missing from the pharmacy—being unaware of the location of these costly and potentially hazardous assets is the number one concern for any pharmaceutical security manager. 68% of the contents taken during pharmaceutical crime are prescription narcotics; by deploying GPS trackers, a manager can always have a line on the location of medical shipments in real time, keeping potentially harmful drugs out of communities.

GPS trackers come in a number of styles: From small, battery-powered units to larger, longer lasting asset trackers, to hardwired trackers installed directly into a shipping vehicle's power source. Placing GPS trackers within shipments is a surefire way to ensure that assets make it from distributor to pharmacy safely, helping curb cargo theft.

Once in the pharmacy, GPS trackers can be used to track larger parcels of medication, once again fighting against cargo theft. Pharmaceutical security managers can also turn to custom, pill-bottle GPS trackers that feature all of the high-tech internal hardware of a battery-powered GPS tracker, but built into the housing of a standard pill bottle. These unique trackers curb employee theft and help police track armed robbery suspects.

Some security managers will even work in tandem with police, deploying pill bottle trackers, or other items like delivery boxes or flats and using the stolen product as bait to uncover organized pharmaceutical crime rings. By monitoring when goods go missing, security managers are able to pinpoint which employees are involved in organized crime; and, by following the trajectory of the stolen goods, they're able to uncover where it winds up before it ends up on the streets. Turning this information over to police is invaluable to investigations because it can help apprehend higher-level organizational offenders as well as fences.

GPS tracking platforms like the one offered by BrickHouse Security feature a number of tools specially suited for pharmaceutical tracking. With real-time trackers, live map views enable a security manager to track the device's exact location, and breadcrumb trails show where the device has been. Motion-activated tracking ensure that, if the device is moved, a manager will receive an instant alert. Custom geofences can be drawn within the platform, which creates a virtual border around a pharmacy (say one square block around the building). If the device breaks the perimeter, the security manager receives an alert, and is able to track the device in real time.

Deploying any or all of these solutions can help combat pharmaceutical crime, especially when working in tandem with law enforcement. It's also crucial to conduct full background checks on all pharmacy employees to ensure that you're building a trustworthy team. By cracking down on pharmacy theft, you help keep potentially fatal drugs that ravage communities off the streets.

Published July 25th, 2017