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Thieves target two Alum Creek pharmacies

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- Within the past couple of months, two pharmacies in Alum Creek have been burglarized for prescription medications.

Early Monday morning, two thieves wearing masks broke into the Meds 2 Go Express Pharmacy at 762 Little Coal River Road in Alum Creek, which was closed at the time, State Police said.

Storeowner Phillip Michael said the suspects forced their way into the store before setting off an alarm. The suspects emptied trashcans and then took dozens of medications off the shelf and put them into the cans before fleeing, he said. Security cameras showed the suspects wearing dark hoodies and bandanas covering their faces.

The crime, which Michael called "brazen," lasted about three or four minutes. The suspects were gone before State Police troopers from Hamlin arrived.

Michael said a similar theft happened at the Alum Creek Pharmacy and Dollar Store at 2162 Childress Road last month. Two suspects emptied trashcans and swiped medications in the same way. Police believe the thefts are related, he said.

The thieves were targeting the family-owned pharmacies' controlled substances, of which a majority is kept locked in a safe. However, the two thieves got away with a good amount of pills, he said.

"Thank God no one was here when it happened," Michael said. "It sucks it happened so close to Christmas."

Michael is waiting to see if the stolen medication would be covered by the store's insurance deductible.

He said his Meds 2 Go Pharmacy has been in the news frequently this year after it became West Virginia's No. 1 seller of a cold medicine that's also used to manufacture methamphetamine almost overnight in October.

New customers flocked to Meds 2 Go Express after the Walmart, seven miles up the road, stopped selling Sudafed, which contains a key meth-making ingredient called pseudoephedrine.

Michael's pharmacy's sales jumped from 140 boxes of pseudoephedrine in August to 570 boxes last month, making Meds 2 Go Express the top seller in the state.

Michael eventually made the decision to stop selling pseudoephedrine all together, costing the store thousands of dollars in sales each month.

"We still get phone calls for it as we speak," Michael said. "In fact I just hung up the phone with someone wanting to know if we had any."

Michael said he did not want to be part of the state's meth epidemic.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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