- Cullman, Alabama

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July 28, 2010

String of pharmacy break-ins continues

McSwain’s, Medical Arts and Hanceville Drug all hit

CULLMAN — Three more local pharmacies were burglarized this week, as a string of break-ins continue across Cullman County.

McSwain’s Pharmacy was burglarized Sunday night, while Medical Arts Apothecary in Cullman and Hanceville Drug were both broken-into Monday night.

Lakeside Pharmacy in Dodge City, and Specialty Pharmacy on Alabama Highway 157, were burglarized last week, and prescription drugs were reportedly stolen from all the shops.

Similar break-ins have also been reported in Jefferson County, Walker County and Blount County, and authorities believe the crimes are likely connected. Suspects in all the break-ins have been described as two or three black males.

“We’ve had a series of pharmacy burglaries that has made its way up Highway 31,” Hanceville Police Chief Mark Bowers said. “It's going on all over Jefferson County and moving up this way. We have video showing one African American subject enter the [Hanceville Drug] pharmacy, stay for a minute and a half, and exit with a moderate amount of drugs.”

Bowers said the details of the break-in, such as the method of entry, are similar to the other crimes.

“The same method has been used everywhere, which is throwing a large concrete object through the window or the front door,” he said.

Hanceville Police responded to the scene at Hanceville Drug at 3:53 a.m., less than two minutes after the initial call, though the suspects were already gone with approximately $420 in drugs.

“We refer to that as a smash-and-grab; they smash the window and make a rapid entry to the building, and then grab what they can in a small amount of time, and leave the scene,” Bowers said. “They spent less than a minute and a half in our town, and they were gone. He was just an opportunist.”

In the two city break-ins, Cullman Police Sergeant Billy Handley said the suspects were also in and out of each pharmacy in less than two minutes.

“We had a response time of within a couple of minutes on each, but watching the surveillance video, they are in and out in about a minute and half,” he said. “So, by the time the alarm company calls it in and we get someone out there, they’re gone.”

Handley said Hydrocodone liquid and Loritab pills were stolen from the two Cullman shops, and both drugs have a street value of several thousands of dollars.

In a coordinated effort to prevent further burglaries, the Cullman and Hanceville police departments are also working with the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office on the case.

“It’s a priority for us and we’re working diligently to formulate a response,”  Sheriff Tyler Roden said.

‰ Benjamin Bullard contributed to this report.

‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 225.

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