Is it an Inside Job?

At Pharmacists Mutual, the Risk Management department regularly reviews pharmacy crimes to evaluate ways to help member companies consider security measures in their pharmacies.  A burglar often visits a pharmacy before breaking in.  The average burglar visits his or her target five times; allowing them to check out motion sensors and other security measures, learn where drugs are stored, and get the layout of the building.

A large number of Pharmacy loss/theft is due to employee pilferage.  The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) estimates from January 1, 2001 to May 31, 2013 nearly half (46%) of pharmacy thefts nationwide resulted from employee pilferage.  Employees sometimes are trusted friends or family members.  Perhaps considering employees as individuals who would take from you is hard to imagine.  The fact is; it IS happening.  There are things you can do to protect your business.

When reviewing some pharmacy crimes some events stick out.  Burglars enter the building.  They are covered from head to toe with clothing.  The burglars then navigate the pharmacy floor without setting off any motion detectors; straight into an area where narcotics are kept.  This area cannot be seen from the retail floor. Is this merely a coincidence?  Another scenario – your pharmacy is burglarized the one and only night your alarm wasn’t properly set.  Your alarm was set and then disarmed (with the code!) shortly after it was armed.  Strangely, you were burglarized that night.

Beyond the obvious burglary, employee pilferage includes many fraud schemes such as skimming – when cash is taken before it enters the books or records for your business.  Accepting payment for something and not recording the transaction is another example.  Larceny – when cash is stolen after it has become part of your records but before it can be deposited in the bank.  An example of larceny may be taking cash from the register.  Billing schemes involve issuing payment for fraudulent invoices submitted by an employee.  These are just a few examples of ways employees can pilfer from your business.

A few things to protect yourself and your valuable assets include:  Be sure to screen employees, conduct surprise audits, personally look into customer complaints do not share the alarm code with employees, implement guidelines and policies with a zero tolerance clause. Be aware and mindful of disgruntled or stressed employees.

Remember thefts and significant loses of controlled substances must be reported to the DEA within one business day upon discovery per Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (1301.76) and any employee who has knowledge of diversion from his or her employer by a fellow employee must be reported. (1309.73). The Office of Diversion Control website has a host of resources and information for pharmacy owners.