TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma police are investigating two pharmacy burglaries from Wednesday morning to see if they were performed by the same group of bandits.
“I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it,” said Liz Rankos when Tacoma police told her what happened.
She wasn’t surprised that her Stadium District pharmacy had been hit, but rather that the crooks didn’t get away with any medications.
“They opened some drawers and something must have spooked them, because our alarm was going off,” said Rankos.
Three people wearing masks were caught on video breaking the glass door of Rankos Pharmacy with a rock. Video shows them crawling through a hole in the glass and then running for the back of the shop toward the pharmacy counter. They grabbed cash from one of the drawers before being alerted by a fourth person waiting outside. The same surveillance video shows them crawling out the hole they made in the front door and walking around the corner.
“I was just very thankful that no medications were entering the market,” said Rankos. “We’re in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic, misuse epidemic,” she said, “if they leave the home, or get in the wrong hands, or are misused, they are very dangerous.”
Just a mile up the road, Tacoma police report Tacoma Medical Center Pharmacy was hit that same morning. Managers confirm narcotics were stolen from behind their counter. Police are not releasing the specific drugs or quantity of drugs while they continue their investigation.
“We could talk to each other and compare notes," said Rankos. “It was at that point that we realized that it really appears they are the same people that hit their pharmacy first and then an hour later came to us.”
Rankos said the criminals may know where the pharmacies are located around town, but they may not know the owners all talk to one another. “We all look out for each other,” she said.
“You’re going to get caught,” said Sherry Tovar, who works at Harvester Restaurant across the street from Rankos Pharmacy. Tovar said these criminals might as well have robbed family.
“Every one of these businesses we know,” said Tovar. “We know everybody across the street. We know Liz, the bank across the street, they know us.”
Tovar said everyone in the neighborhood will be on the lookout, because that’s what they do.
“We’re vigilant and we watch and we take care of each other, as soon as something happens we all know about it,” said Tovar.
“We’re here to stay,” said Rankos, her family pharmacy won’t be moving away from an area they love because of this week’s break-in. “I feel really safe despite the fact that we do have a few of these strange things happening.”
We checked around to see if these robberies are part of a larger trend in the region. Federal officials said there were a number of pharmacy robberies some years ago, but they’re not actively tracking the issue.