SALISBURY, Md.- A Monday morning robbery in Salisbury marked yet another crime in what area law enforcement agencies are calling a spike in armed robberies and burglaries of area pharmacies. In response, they have set up what is being called the "Rx Task Force"; a combined effort of the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police and the Salisbury Police Department.
A press conference held Tuesday afternoon by the task force revealed further information about the latest crime, as well as other recent robberies.
According to Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan, Jason Hall, 26, of Hurlock, robbed Community Pharmacy on South Salisbury Boulevard Monday and then led police in a vehicle pursuit. Duncan said an execution of three search warrants revealed Hall to be in possession of 3,000 prescription medications, valued at $60,000.
Also during Tuesday's press conference, Duncan said police are certain they can implicate Hall in two other robberies at this time, including Monday's robbery at a Delmar pharmacy as well as February's robbery at Peninsula Pharmacy in Salisbury.
Duncan said police are taking this recent uptick in pharmacy robberies seriously.
"A total of five instances, five robberies in approximately three-months time, when you compare that to the rest of the history, the 10-year history, it definitely is a spike," she said. "It is an increase and something that we're working on combating with our partners."
Duncan encourages the local pharmacy community to attend an informational meeting this Friday, aimed at preventing future, similar crimes in the area.
Meanwhile, January's armed robbery at Milford Street Pharmacy remains unsolved.
"Well, it was terrifying," explained Milford Street Pharmacist Buddy Richardson, "It's probably one of the greatest fears that you have. Someone comes in with a gun and essentially threatening your life for stealing drugs."
Richardson said he has lived in the area all his life and never experienced anything like what happened at the pharmacy on Jan. 4.
"We're extremely vigilant and suspect. Unfortunately, we're suspect about everything. I mean, it stole not only money and drugs but our sense of security," Richardson said.
Evan Avnet, who runs a security consulting business, said this recent spike in armed robberies has meant increased demand for his line of work.
"Our demand for our services has really increased over the past several months," Avnet told WBOC, "We're happy to see that people are taking their personal security and their business security a lot more seriously."
Customer security is also key, according to Shirley Willey.
"I think everybody's going to need to get together and figure out what's the best way to dispense drugs, I really do," she said. "I don't know whether they need to lock the doors and dispense them out of the windows, which would really be a hardship for some people."
Milford Street Pharmacy COO Melissa Batie Johnson said that while she is happy law enforcement is acting on these crimes, she thinks more needs to be done.
"I do think it's going to take more than a task force, more than law enforcement. It's going to take some legislative action to really make some changes," she said.
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