IPU Crime Survey: Pharmacies Under Siege Due to High Levels of Crime


  • Three quarters of pharmacies are victims of crime
  • One in four have experienced violence or weapons
  • Gardaí need greater resources to tackle crime in the community

7 March 2019: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) Crime Survey*, published today, reveals that pharmacies across the country are under siege due to the high levels of crime they are subject too. Three quarters of all pharmacies have been the victim of at least one crime over the past twelve months, with the majority of these (81%) experiencing multiple incidents. The IPU has called for more resources to be made available to tackle crime in the community or warned that these high levels of crime will continue.

Key findings of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) Crime Survey include:

  • 75% of pharmacies were the victims of crime last year with 81% of these experiencing multiple incidents;
  • 93% of pharmacies that were victims of crime experienced shoplifting and 11% a break-in, while the percentage experiencing fraud increased to 19%;
  • 17% of pharmacies have had controlled or other prescribed drugs stolen in the last year;
  • The number of pharmacists who experienced a raid, at 13%, remains extremely high, having increased from 6% in 2016;
  • Pharmacists are less likely to report crime to the Gardaí than a year previously.

President of the IPU, Daragh Connolly, voiced concern at the findings of this year’s survey, “Ireland’s pharmacies are at the centre of communities nationwide, it is unacceptable that they are persistently subjected to high levels of crime.  This is a threat that cannot be ignored any longer. The Gardaí need to be tasked with tackling this issue and be given the resources required to do so in a meaningful way.

“Shoplifting continues to be the most prevalent crime against pharmacies. Fake tan is the single most commonly stolen item (50%) along with other cosmetics and perfume. Meanwhile, almost a quarter of pharmacies (24%) have had cash taken. What is undoubtedly the most sinister and concerning crime example is the high level of thefts of medicines, 17% of pharmacies have had controlled or prescribed drugs stolen in the past year.”

The level of violence being experienced by pharmacists is a particular concern according to Mr Connolly with one in four pharmacies who were subject to crime describing the incident or incidence as ‘violent’. “Pharmacists nationwide are being threatened with knives, syringes and even guns (in 21% of cases where a weapon was used). This is a terrifying ordeal for any staff or patients who have the misfortune to witness a violent raid.”

According to Mr Connolly the reporting of crimes against pharmacies to the Gardaí is declining. “Only 68% of pharmacies who were victims of crime last year reported those crimes to the Gardaí, which is a decline of from 73% the previous year. A third of these (32%) said that they had a lack of faith that the criminal would be charged. While 65% of those who did report a crime were pleased with the Garda response, unfortunately 35% were not. This indicates once again the clear need to provide the Gardaí with the resources needed to tackle crime against communities and community businesses.”

Mr Connolly concluded by calling for a more visible Garda presence in communities, “96% of pharmacists feel that increasing the visibility would have a very positive impact on reducing crime. This would benefit pharmacies, but of course entire communities as well.”

Respondents to the survey identified more visible policing (96%), faster Garda response (89%) and tougher sentencing (86%) as the most effective methods for reducing crime.