As many of us know, medicine can be very expensive. Many thieves are also aware of this and have stolen large quantities of pharmaceuticals with hopes of selling them on the black market. Due to the significant cost of these thefts, drug companies have gotten smarter about security, making it much more difficult to steal their products. Pharmaceutical thefts began to spike in 2009, but have now dropped sharply, both in number of thefts and average value stolen in each incident. This is a good lesson in demonstrating how proper security can do wonders for companies. Before these security reforms were made, however, some companies were hit hard.
Security Mishap of the Decade
In the early morning hours of Easter Sunday 2010, a five-man crew gained entry to a global pharmaceutical company’s warehouse through the roof and filled an entire tractor-trailer with thousands of boxes of various prescription drugs. The exact numbers vary by source, but the total value of the stolen drugs ranges from $60-80 million. Regardless, experts have called it the largest pharmaceutical theft in United States history.
Despite the warehouse containing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of pharmaceuticals, personnel weren’t particularly concerned about security. A security expert who toured the site a few years prior to the heist was surprised that the facility didn’t have security guards or even a fence around its perimeter. Suggestions were made to bolster the site’s security but were apparently ignored. Their security personnel thought that the warehouse’s location in an upscale community would protect it from theft. This serves as a good reminder that breaches to your company’s security can happen anywhere and anytime, even if the site is in a seemingly secure area.
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The company’s insurer sued the warehouse’s security provider, ADT, for allowing the thieves access to a proprietary report detailing security problems with the warehouse. That, the insurance company claims, is how the thieves were able to execute the heist without setting off any alarms or being captured by surveillance cameras. A jury determined that ADT was not liable for the theft, likely because the suit didn’t explain how or why this report would have been given to the thieves. Whether or not the crew somehow had access to inside information, the warehouse’s security flaws were enough to allow a team of thieves several hours undisturbed in the warehouse to steal the most valuable drugs stored there. If not for DNA on a water bottle found in the warehouse being traced back to one of the thieves, the crew may have gotten away clean.
One of the fears of law enforcement, pharmaceutical companies, and the medical community is that stolen drugs will end up being sold in stores. Thieves who steal the drugs are unlikely to keep them in a proper environment, meaning potentially spoiled drugs don’t usually reach consumers. Since Villa and his crew had a difficult time offloading the stolen drugs, most, if not all, of the haul was recovered. Tens of millions of dollars worth of drugs had to be destroyed due to the risk of medications reaching the public that had spoiled or been tampered with. Since crews of cargo thieves are on the prowl at night and during weekends, it is extremely important to make sure your business is protected even if you don’t have anyone on site. A layered security system is the best theft deterrent for many types of businesses, providing physical, shock, and alarm deterrents.
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