Pharmacies across New York City are on alert after another string of break-ins over the weekend, and it’s not just the businesses feeling the strain — as those who rely on pharmacies to get their prescriptions also suffer.
Colombo’s Pharmacy in Queens has been a trusted community pillar for more than two decades. But owner Vito Colombo said this year marked the first time his Middle Village shop had ever been broken into, and it has now happened twice.
“The broke in at 3 o’clock in the morning each time and just came in,” said Colombo. “It’s unfortunate. It’s a sign of the times.”
Surveillance video shows the suspects make a smashing entrance and march right for prescription pills, specifically oxycodone.
Colombo’s is just one of many that have faced similar struggles. Police said upwards of 20 neighborhood pharmacies have been targeted this year alone, including four over the past weekend in Queens.
NYPD Inspector Nicholas Fiore said his team has seen how the burglary crews work across the city.
“I’m seeing a crew of two to four people in multiple cars going city wide: Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island,” said Fiore. “Not only does it hurt the business owner and their family, it hurts the residents in the community tremendously.”
The Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network, a group of more than 200 pharmacies across the five boroughs , is sounding the alarm not only to the mom-and-pop business being impacted, but to the criminals as well.
“For the bad guys, don’t be surprised if you walk into the pharmacy and find an armed guard there in the middle of the night that you weren’t expecting,” said Roger Paganelli, who owns a pharmacy of his own in the Bronx.