Two Crimes Show
Chief Cannon Says
BY KEN LITTLE
Two fast-working thieves who made off with thousands of pills Sunday morning from a Greeneville pharmacy are likely linked to a July drug store heist in Morristown, police Chief Terry Cannon said Tuesday.
The burglars both wore ski masks. They targeted narcotic pills and other prescription drugs at Greene County Drug, 906 Tusculum Blvd.
Greeneville police responded at 6:32 a.m. Sunday after an alarm was activated inside the pharmacy.
The suspects made entry at 6:28 a.m. and exited the business by 6:29 a.m., the report said. They were on the road seconds after that, a security video shows.
The men fled in a light-colored or white Chrysler 300 sedan. They stole more than 8,000 pills, including hydrocodone, Phenobarbital and other medications such as Diazepam and Levothyroxine, the report said.
The same two men are probably responsible for a similar-style robbery July 21 at the Fountain Plaza Pharmacy on West Andrew Johnson Highway in Morristown, authorities said.
That break-in netted an even larger quality of narcotic pills and other prescription medications.
"I would say they've done it before," Cannon said. "From what this looks like, these people are in the business."
IN AND OUT
A surveillance video shows the four-door sedan pull into the lot from Tusculum Boulevard and stop in front of Greene County Drug with its lights on.
The video shows the passenger getting out of the back seat with a pair of bolt cutters, running up to the front door, and popping out the lock.
In the video, the man runs back to the car and grabs a plastic carry bin. The driver, also carrying a bin, runs into the pharmacy with the passenger. They emerge from the pharmacy 55 seconds later, get into the car and leave.
Both men were wearing gray ski masks and black gloves.
The police report said that, once inside the business, one man loaded up thousands of hydrocodone pills, while the other placed Phenobarbital and other drugs in the plastic bin.
The suspects left the area driving toward Snapps Ferry Road.
Morristown police responded to an alarm at 6:09 a.m. Sunday, July 21, at the Fountain Plaza Pharmacy, 2825 West Andrew Johnson Hwy.
On arrival, officers saw the lock at the front door had been broken.
Inside, officers "noticed drawers left open and pill bottles on the floor," a report said.
The owner arrived and told officers that three drawers containing narcotics "were now empty," the report said.
The report said a surveillance video shows "a white Chrysler 300 with two suspects approach the pharmacy, break the lock, and then obtain the narcotics from the (drawers)."
The Morristown police report indicates the men were inside the business for three minutes, from 6:03 to 6:06 a.m.
Drugs stolen by the men include morphine, oxycodone, methadone, Demerol, Dilaudid and amphetamine salts.
The pair may be responsible for pharmacy burglaries elsewhere in Tennessee and the Southeast, authorities said.
Cannon said individuals addicted to painkillers who steal quantities of drugs generally either end up getting arrested quickly or overdosing. He suspects the pair responsible for Sunday's burglary was motivated by profit.
The narcotics stolen in the burglaries can be sold for many times their retail value on the street, he said.
They're not using (the drugs) themselves, because if they're using them themselves, they get caught," Cannon said.
Most businesses have alarm systems. Pharmacies that have narcotic medications in stock should have an extra level of protection, he said.
"If they've got narcotic drugs, put them in a safe if they can. It's a lot better," Cannon said.
Detective Lt. David Crum, lead investigator on the case, said there are many similarities in the Greeneville and Morristown pharmacy burglaries.
"It's the same vehicle in Morristown, or a similar vehicle," Crum said.
Greeneville police ask business-owners and others with surveillance cameras in the area to check the footage during the Sunday morning time frame when the burglary occurred.
"We would like to ask anyone who has video in town any time around then to look at it," Crum said. "The (suspects) may have got off the Interstate and got gas somewhere in town."
Anyone with information about the Greeneville or Morristown robberies can contact the Greeneville Police Department at (423) 639-7111 or the Morristown Police Department at (423) 585-2710.