WATCH: Police agencies work together on spate of pharmacy burglaries in Southern Utah

ST. GEORGE — A break-in reported Wednesday morning at a St. George pharmacy is the latest in a string of burglaries that stretches across two Utah counties and possibly into Nevada, prompting one local law enforcement agency to seek assistance from the FBI.

Surveillance footage shows three suspects in front of Siena’s Pharmacy Wednesday morning, St. George, Utah, Sept. 20, 2017 | Image courtesy of Siena’s Pharmacy, St. George News

Shortly after 2:30 a.m., officers were dispatched to Siena’s Pharmacy, 1664 S. Dixie Drive, when an alarm was triggered, St. George Police Public Information Officer Lona Trombley said.

Officers discovered that the front entrance door of the business was damaged and appeared to have been forced open. Once inside, they determined that a burglary had occurred.

“It appears that some narcotics were stolen and detectives arrived on scene to gather evidence,” Trombley said.

The store was equipped with video surveillance that was turned over to police and shows scenes both inside and outside of the store while the burglary was taking place.

See surveillance video in media player at top of this report

Steve Kirkland, co-owner of Siena’s Pharmacy, said he was contacted by police early that morning and has since taken inventory of the losses, as well as damage to the door.

Anyone with information on this particular burglary is being asked to contact St. George Police at 435-627-4300.

Kirkland and his wife, Jill Langston Kirkland, posted a video on the store’s Facebook page outlining their thoughts on what is behind the burglary.

Steve Kirkland said that the opioid epidemic is the primary factor fueling the recent rash of pharmacy burglaries, adding that problems with addiction can begin early in life, usually after an injury.

He went on to say that he has increased security measures at the store since the break-in.

Approximately 90 minutes later, officers were dispatched to an alarm at Parowan Drug and Gift, 20 N. Main St., in Parowan, the city’s Police Chief Ken Carpenter said.

The suspects entered the store by prying open the front door, stealing narcotic medication and other items, then fleeing on foot before police arrived.

Store surveillance footage shows three suspects entering store after allegedly breaking door glass Wednesday morning, St. George, Utah, Sept. 20, 2017 | Image courtesy of Siena’s Pharmacy, St. George News

Kathy Barnes, owner of Parowan Drug and Gift, told St. George News that police called her at home early Wednesday morning to notify her of the burglary. The pharmacy’s video surveillance footage was turned over to police to assist in the investigation.

She said they believe there was more than one suspect involved, adding that security features have been enhanced at the store since the incident.

Carpenter said that once a store is targeted, suspects conduct surveillance on the business before breaking in, which allows them to locate the narcotic medication quickly and flee with the items before police can respond.

“It all happens very quickly and it seems that they know exactly where to go to get what they are after, and then they are gone,” the chief said.

He went on to say that the string of burglaries reported in Southern Utah came on quickly, and with so many stores being hit over the last month it appears these crimes have “exploded onto the scene.” As a result, various agencies have started sharing information and working together to develop leads.

“This is the second time our pharmacy here in Parowan has been hit, and the first time we caught the suspect, but three days later stores in Cedar City were hit,” Carpenter said, adding that three pharmacies in Cedar City were burglarized within the last month.

St. George News was unable to confirm the number of reported burglaries with authorities in Cedar City, who could not be reached for comment.

The Parowan Police Department has reached out to the FBI, Carpenter said.

The FBI’s assistance would bring additional resources to the investigation and provide interstate authority if the drugs are being taken across state lines, he said.

Sandra Barker, public affairs specialist with the FBI’s Salt Lake City division, confirmed the agency has been contacted by the Parowan Police Department, and while it is not officially involved at this point, she went on to say, “If asked to assist, we will provide that assistance.”

Carpenter said the Mesquite Police Department has also provided assistance to various law-enforcement agencies in Southern Utah.

Quinn Averett, the department’s public information officer, said that Mesquite has not had any reported pharmacy burglaries but are assisting in the investigations in Utah because of their proximity to the Interstate 15 corridor.

“They pass through Mesquite from Vegas on the way to the Southern Utah area,” Averett said, “so we are involved in that way, but we can’t comment any further on the investigation, since it’s Utah’s investigation.”

This report is based on statements from police or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • Foxyheart September 22, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    I find it ‘funny’ that AFTER they are broken into, pharmacies enhance their protection. huh? If I owned one, I would have the best security afforded to me. Like bars on the doors and windows and a safe to keep the opioids in. How about as soon as motion is detected in the store, that lights come on? What about an exploding dye pack mixed in with the drugs? Or as my husband suggested, an expanding metal gate that can be pulled over the door and windows like they have in NY? Sheesh, the pharmacies are sitting ducks as long as they don’t try to protect their wares.

    PUT THE OPIOIDS IN A VAULT OR SAFE EACH NIGHT, IDIOTS!!!!!!

  • Caveat_Emptor September 22, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    The St. George News has done a fine job of reporting on past pharmacy break-ins, and the recent capture of a couple dimwits from So. Cal. That Washington City pharmacy finally implemented better quality video surveillance equipment, but the bad guys wore face coverings to mask identification. The police arrived quickly to catch one of the guys “red handed”.
    Memo to other area pharmacies: The bad guys know where you keep the drugs, and are astute enough to know that your counter-measures are weak at best.
    The trend suggests trying something different to secure the good stuff…..

  • xbcmc059 September 22, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Seriously, the FBI? Sounds more like a training issue to me. You can’t catch window smash burglars working radar and DUI’s all night long. Maybe the cops ought to roll down the windows on their radio cars, and get their faces off of computer screens and mobile devices.

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