Drug Store Bandits Fail In Diversion Ploy

Thursday, March 6th 2008, 9:44 pm
By: News On 6

Addiction to prescription medications has made owning a pharmacy a much more dangerous business than ever.  News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports a new Glenpool pharmacy that's only been open eight weeks has already been broken into twice.

It's hard enough to start a small business from scratch, but when burglars hit you right off the bat, it makes it even tougher.  And, pharmacies are big targets for criminals these days.  In this case, great police work resulted in some quick arrests.

Nick Curtin and his wife opened their family drug store at 131st and Elwood because they wanted to offer a personal touch with customers.  That's why you can find a plate of cookies and a coffee pot and why they even deliver some medications right to your door.

Their first few weeks were going well, but then came a call from the alarm company.

"They walked right past the cash register and everything else. All they wanted was drugs," said Nick Curtin of Curtin Drug Store.

They took mostly anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs, things that bring a good price on the streets.  A couple days later, police stopped some men who looked like they were about to break in again.  Officers didn't have enough to hold them, but kept an eye on them.

A couple of hours after that, someone set fire to a car across town. A police officer figured it was just a ploy to pull him away and he was right. It seems the suspects set the car on fire, and then raced back to the pharmacy to break in.

Police didn't fall for the trick and arrested Phillip Irby, Justin Harjo and Thomas Owens.

"It was really pretty amazing. I was broken into at 5:30, actual time they broke in. I open at 9 o'clock. Before I opened, they had arrested the suspects and found the drugs," said Nick Curtin of Curtin Drug Store.

Nick has now installed a steel scissor gate that will cover his glass doors and the glass is now shatterproof.  Even with insurance, all this expense is hard on a budding business.

"They're here such a short time, just grabbing stuff. They took so many different things, diabetes and blood pressure medicine. Just goes in the garbage, money out of my pocket," said Nick Curtin of Curtin Drug Store.

The suspects each face felony charges of attempted burglary, burglary and car arson.

The Curtins say the main reason they chose their new location is because everyone told them what a low-crime area it is.  They hope that proves to be the case from here on out.