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Takeover robbers strike Point Richmond pharmacy

on November 24, 2014

Three masked men robbed a Point Richmond pharmacy on Friday afternoon, taking a large amount of prescription medication and leaving two store employees tied up.

According to Richmond Police Sergeant Nicole Abetkov, the takeover robbery occurred around 1:20 p.m., when three masked men thought to be in their twenties walked into Point Pharmacy at 139 W. Richmond Avenue.

“They looked like trouble from the get-go,” said pharmacist Vern Verling.  “They just told us to get on the ground,” said pharmacist’s assistant, Bryant Guardado.  The pharmacists said they did not see a weapon.

Two of the men zip-tied the hands of Verling and Guardado. There were no customers in the pharmacy at the time.

The third man jumped over the counter and took a variety of prescription pills, focusing particularly on the pharmacy’s stock of oxycodone, a popular narcotic also known by its brand name of OxyContin.

One of the robbers attempted to take cash from the pharmacy’s register but was unable to get it open.

An unlucky UPS deliveryman walked into the pharmacy during the robbery. The robbers told him to lie down, where he remained until the robbers left the store. He then freed the victims. They quickly phoned 911. No one was injured in the robbery.

According to Verling, the robbery lasted somewhere between 2-4 minutes.

Richmond police arrived within a few minutes.

The suspects left behind an airsoft gun magazine that could contain potential fingerprint evidence. Airsoft guns are non-lethal novelty guns that fire small pellets. But those guns can resemble the real thing. Richmond Police are looking at the pharmacy’s surveillance video footage.

Police Lieutenant Andre Hill estimates that the suspects took anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pills. “This is something that’s becoming a common occurrence,” said Lt. Hill.

According to Lt. Hill, the growing street value of certain pain medications is creating a huge trend in not only pharmacy robberies but in residential burglaries as well – where prescribed medications are stolen from homeowners’ medicine cabinets.

Point Pharmacy was also the victim of a robbery in July 2014 when a man walked behind the counter and took a bottle of the prescription medication, Norco.

Verling followed the suspect outside, wrote down his license plate number, and gave it to Richmond Police. That suspect was later caught.

Point Pharmacy is now taking precautions to prevent future robberies or burglaries. “We’re going to put bulletproof glass all the way, in the front of the store,” said Verling.

Richmond Police are offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and charging of the suspect(s) involved in the pharmacy robbery.  Contact Detective Wellhausen at (510) 620-6860.

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