Cash, drugs, cosmetics, and fake tans were the most common items stolen.
Of the 120 pharmacies surveyed across the country, 89 were hit by crime. Almost one in five (22) described the incidents as “violent”.
The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) Crime Survey 2015 found a fifth of pharmacies did not report the crime — and that almost half of them did not do so because they felt the perpetrator would not be charged.
IPU vice-president Daragh Connolly said the survey revealed 74% of pharmacies had experienced some form of crime, including shop- lifting, robbery, and raids.
The survey found that 84% of victims had suffered two or more incidents, with 18% describing the incident as “violent”.
It found that in a third of cases, where there was a robbery or a raid, the perpetrators had a weapon. Of these, a gun was used in 46% of cases and a knife in 45%.
“It is difficult enough to run a pharmacy in the current environment without being the target for criminal activity that not only has a significant cost factor but more importantly has a detrimental impact on pharmacy staff who are subjected to these incidents,” said Mr Connolly.
“Almost one-in-five cases against pharmacies are violent in nature, involving not only a physical threat but also a substantial psychological threat to victims.
“It is unacceptable that pharmacy owners and their staff are viewed as soft targets where the probability of repeat offences is high and the risk of apprehension and penalty is low.”
The survey found 79% of pharmacies reported the incidents to gardaí. Of those that did, 69% were happy the case was dealt with effectively or adequately.
Of those that did not, 47% said they believed the criminal would not be charged.
The vast majority (94%) said they had invested in CCTV to protect their staff and their businesses.
In relation to pharmacies hit, one-in-five said cash was taken. In 13% of cases, over-the-counter drugs were stolen and controlled drugs in 10% of cases.
Cosmetics and fake tan were the most likely items to be shoplifted.
“Pharmacists who are victims of crime say they are sick and tired of the revolving door approach, with many complaining that even when the criminals are caught they are not sufficiently penalised and are allowed to continue with their criminal activities,” Mr Connolly said.
“What is urgently required is a no tolerance approach from the judiciary and the gardaí, with tougher sentencing and a more visible Garda presence required to address this scourge.”