PLATTSBURGH — For Dan Bosley, all signs point to more safety.
Posters at the entrances of his stores, Cornerstone Drug and Gifts in Rouses Point and Keesville Pharmacy in that village, announce a strict new dress-code policy enforced in light of Tuesday’s robbery of the Walgreens on Cornelia Street in Plattsburgh.
“The signs tell customers if you are wearing a hoodie or a baseball cap and glasses, you will be asked to remove them in my stores,” he said via phone from his Rouses Point store.
The garb is the same that was worn by the Walgreens robber, who handed an employee a note stating he was armed with knife and demanding powerful prescription painkillers.
He fled the premises with a quantity of Oxycontin and Oxycodone with an estimated street value of about $30,000, according to City of Plattsburgh Police.
He remained at large as of Thursday evening.
Most armed robberies for controlled substances are for personal use, according Selig Corman, a retired pharmacist and director of professional affairs for the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York.
He is hoping legislation awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature may help control prescription drug abuse and stop the growing trend of pharmacy robberies.
Corman said the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act would bring major improvements to how controlled substances are prescribed.
“The first change that will happen is that all (controlled substance) prescriptions are going to have to be produced electronically to cut down on fraud,” he said.
By 2014, New York could be one of the first states to switch to electronic rather than paper prescriptions.
“The second change is prescribers are going to be required to look up a complete profile of a patient to see if they have used the drugs in the past,” Corman added.
And all physicians would have to access a database of the patient’s prescription history before they can prescribe a schedule II, III or IV controlled substance.
He said the increasing price of the highly addictive painkillers sold illegally makes pharmacists the target of attacks.
“The street value of Oxycontin is approximately $1 per milligram and each pill could have at least 30 milligrams,” Corman said. “So a bottle of 100 could be worth as much as $3,000.”
Steve Moore, a pharmacist at Condo Pharmacy in Plattsburgh, is equally concerned about the increase of drugstore holdups both locally and across the country.
“It’s one of our biggest fears,” he said.
He was sad to hear about the robbery and immediately thought of his fellow pharmacists at Walgreens.
“It’s a difficult thing to hear, and we are just glad no one got hurt,” he said. “The pharmacists shouldn’t have to go through that. They are busy taking care of patients.”
Moore is also concerned about how pharmacy robberies affect people with chronic pain who legitimately need prescription painkillers.
“Now you have patients that are going to be without their medication,” he said.
Like Bosley, Moore said security is Condo’s main priority. Yet what could they do to augment systems already in place? he wondered.
“You ask yourself, what can we do? Do we hire a security guard?”
The Walgreens crime is not the first pharmacy heist in the area.
Last year, Joseph J. Budwick of Elizabethtown was sentenced to 20 years in prison for an April 2008 botched robbery at Hometown Pharmacy in Elizabethtown and a March 2008 break-in at Willsboro Pharmacy.
Police said man was in search of an assortment of prescription medication in both instances.
In 2009, a man claiming to have a gun attempted to rob Family Drug on Healey Avenue after threatening an employee and demanding prescription painkillers.
A few months later, Plattsburgh City Police arrested a man who rammed his truck into Kinney Drugs at 52 Boynton Ave. and was caught loading more than 4,000 pills into a trash bag.
Bosley’s employees are instructed to ask anyone who enters wearing the forbidden hoodie, hat or sunglasses, which can act as a disguise for a person with nefarious intent, to remove it upon entering.
He hopes drawing attention to it would deter a potential robber.
But he has received some backlash from customers who are unhappy with his dress code.
“I am telling my regular customers ... who come in with baseball hats and sunglasses on to be prepared to remove them, (too),” he said. “At this point, you don’t have the right to be wearing this stuff in my stores.”
His concern stems from worry about the safety of his employees.
“(They) become like family, and a threat against them is a threat to your family,” he said. “It’s really scary. I worry about it every day.”
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