Orange County authorities investigate string of pharmacy burglaries

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- At least five pharmacies were burglarized in Orange County overnight, and authorities are working to determine if the crimes are connected.

The first burglary was reported shortly after midnight at Pharmacy Plus in the 1000 block of N. Euclid Street in Anaheim. Police say at least four burglars smashed in a glass window with a brick and ransacked the pharmacy department.

Anaheim police say the suspects took a small amount of cash and prescription medicine, and fled the scene in two different vehicles.

A second burglary was reported at Villa Park Pharmacy in the 17800 block of Santiago Boulevard in Villa Park just before 2 a.m. Orange County sheriff's deputies say up to five suspects in hooded sweatshirts broke into the business and stole cough syrup and lottery tickets.

About 45 minutes later, Tustin police say burglars broke through the door of the Tustin Community Pharmacy in the 13400 block of Newport Avenue and immediately fled the scene. Authorities believe a sound alarm spooked the burglars.

Garden Grove police responded to a report of a burglary at An Pharmacy in the 10900 block of Westminster Boulevard around 3:50 a.m., Lt. Bob Bogue said.

Surveillance video provided to Garden Grove police shows approximately five suspects covered from head to toe in clothing using a rock to break the window of the pharmacy and a grinder to cut the lock off the security gate.

"I think that this trend is kicking up a lot lately in Orange County. It's unusual to have five people go into a business, usually you get one or two that will break into a business, but for five, this seems pretty daring," Bogue said.

The suspects fled the scene with an unknown amount of cough syrup and lottery tickets. Police described their getaway vehicles as a burgundy Cadillac and a white Lexus SUV.

Bogue says even more worrying is their apparent demand for cough syrup.

"Anytime you get a new narcotic out there on the streets and the public is consuming that in a social way, it's very concerning," he said.

A fifth burglary was reported at Med-Zone Pharmacy in the 800 block of N. Tustin Avenue in Santa Ana, authorities said. According to the police, the suspects stole heart medication and eye drops. Police also found about 100 prescription bottles with the Med-Zone address in a Garden Grove neighborhood.

A pharmacist who did not want to appear on camera told Eyewitness News she received an alarm activation call around 3:20 a.m., but dismissed it because she thought it was a false alarm. When she arrived at work around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, she found the glass door of the pharmacy shattered.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information was asked to contact authorities.
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