Smash-and-Grab Burglaries at Area Pharmacies on the Rise

By: Nicole Morten Email
By: Nicole Morten Email

Now to an update on that Walgreens smash and grab burglary in Brenham last Friday morning. Thieves broke in and stole prescription painkiller pills, and it was all caught on camera. Local investigators are joining forces with other agencies across the state to see if this burglary is connected to other similar break-ins.

They're here. There. And just about everywhere in the Brazos Valley; but in recent months crooks have been zeroing-in on pain killers inside drive-thru pharmacies. Although it's unclear exactly why, Walgreen's has become the prime target.

"Like most chains the stores are probably laid out in a specific manner,” explained College Station Police Officer Rhonda Seaton.

At the beginning of July, James Edward Turner and Calvin Leroy Franklin, both of Houston, were arrested in College Station for burglary of a Walgreens in the 2300 block of Texas Avenue. During a search of Turner’s vehicle, police reportedly found a 25-pound hammer, a large “punch” tool, a crowbar, and shards of safety glass inside the vehicle. According to the affidavit, a GPS system displaying the address of two different Walgreens locations was found inside the vehicle.

Not too long after their arrest, authorities discovered a large hole had been punched into the safety glass of the drive-through window at the Walgreens on Texas Avenue. It's a break-in method consistent with a series of burglaries in Austin, Dallas, Giddings and Houston. According to reports, 18 pharmacies have been hit in Austin and nearly 20 drive-thru pharmacies have been hit in Houston since the beginning of the year.

“Giddings Police Department had a break-in of a Brookshire Brother's similar to the one we had here at Walgreen's as well as other agencies in the Houston area and the DFW area,” said Brenham Police Corporal and Public Information Officer Chris Jackson.

Friday at 2:30 a.m., a Walgreens in Brenham became the latest victim -- and the entire burglary -- was caught on camera.

The surveillance video at the Walgreens on the 2400 Block of South Day Street in Brenham captured two male suspects struggling to break through the glass window of the drive-thru pharmacy at 2:26 a.m.Friday for approximately three minutes. Once the first suspect climbed through the broken window, he darted straight for the prescription pills. Within a matter of 42 seconds, both suspects filled two trash bags with prescription pills, including 18 bottles of oxycodone.

“In the video it would appear they knew exactly what they were doing and exactly where they were going,” said Jackson.

Officer Rhonda Seaton says the trending crime is a major concern for the community.

“They could be breaking in to steal drugs to make a profit, use personally, or supply drugs for friends or family,” explained Seaton. “Number one we don't want them to be furnished to people in our community; number two: we don't want these people in our community to be under the influence of drugs.”

As for the pharmacies -- extra measures are being taken to provide police with a closer look at the crooks in action. Although investigators do have leads, the two suspects in the Brenham Walgreens burglary have not been arrested.

Meanwhile, the two Houston men arrested in College Station were charged with burglary of a building.

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