Burglars break into OC pharmacies; steal drugs, cough syrup & lottery tickets

- Burglars broke into or attempted to break into pharmacies in Anaheim, Villa Park, Tustin and Garden Grove overnight and reportedly made off with drugs, lottery tickets and cough syrup, authorities said.

From Hal Eisner:

Authorities say they’ve got a group of drug store bandits are on the loose! Security video from two pharmacies released publicly shows the bandits using a cutting tool to torch their way into pharmacies.

There were 4 heists and 1 attempted burglary. The four were at Med-Zone Pharmacy in Santa Ana, Pharmacy Plus in Anaheim, Villa Park Pharmacy in Villa Park and An Pharmacy in Garden Grove. A burglary-attempt at Community Pharmacy in Tustin was unsuccessful according to Police.

Police pointed to a codeine cough syrup as the target of the crew in Garden Grove. It’s widely known that codeine cough syrup is used in a party drink known as “purple drank” of “sizzurp”. There are Facebook pages for Purple Drank and rap artists that have popularized it.

With regard to the burglaries Santa Ana Police Corporal Bertagna says the crew’s work has the markings of similar heists all over Southern California. Bertagna says, "this is not just an Orange county problem. This is going on throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino and Riverside counties.” And, his department analysts who have been in touch with their counterparts of other departments, believe the same crew is doing all the dirty work.

Right now, Bertagna says the only description they have is that all of the crew members appear black and male.


The first break-in apparently took place about 12:05 a.m. at the Pharmacy Plus at 1012 N. Euclid St. in Anaheim, according to Anaheim police Officer Scott McManus.

"We got a call a from a passerby that there was a broken front door at the pharmacy and the burglar alarm was going off," McManus said. "Officers responded and found that the pharmacy had been burglarized. But we don't know how many drugs were stolen."

McManus said police don't yet have a description of the burglars. However, a videographer at the scene told City News Service that witnesses said there were at least three men in dark hoodies who broke into the
pharmacy and fled in a Ford Mustang and an SUV.

Anyone with information on this burglary was asked to call the Anaheim police at (714) 765-1900.

Burglars also hit pharmacies in Tustin, Villa Park and Garden Grove, McManus said.

"Logic would tell you it appears to be the same crew," he said. In Villa Park the burglars broke the glass front door to get in, Orange County sheriff's Lt. John Roche said. The sheriff's department provides policing for Villa Park.

"They broke into the Villa Park Pharmacy in the 17000 block of Santiago Boulevard," Roche said. "The thieves were gone before our deputies arrived on scene."

Roche said detectives have viewed surveillance video from the pharmacy but it did not produce any firm suspect descriptions. "All we have from that is there were five individuals," Roche said.

"We couldn't tell what race they were. They were wearing dark hoodies and masks or bandannas to cover their faces." Roche said that so far it appears the burglars took only "lottery tickets and cough syrup."

"It looks like it's the same crew that did all these break-ins," Roche added. "We are all going to do our own investigation but I'm sure there will be some sort of joint cooperation between the jurisdictions to find these

In Tustin, the burglary reportedly took place in the 13400 block of Newport Avenue, according to a videographer at the scene. No one from the Tustin police was available for comment this morning.

In Garden Grove, a pharmacy at 10963 Westminster Ave. was burglarized about 3:55 a.m., said Garden Grove police Lt. Bob Bogue. Five suspects wearing hooded garments smashed a window and forced open a security gate, and then fled with prescription drugs, possibly getting away in a burgundy Cadillac and a white Lexus SUV. Anyone with information on the crime was urged to call police at (714) 741-5837.

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