JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville police are investigating the second brazen burglary in two weeks at the same pharmacy.
Both times, a thief wearing a hoodie and mask broke into the Panama Pharmacy’s St. Nicholas location near Atlantic Boulevard and Beach Boulevard.
The latest heist happened about 5 a.m. Monday. The store had to close for the second time in as many weeks.
“When these types of things happen, we can’t help the community,” owner and pharmacist Dr. Kevin Duane said Monday. “Today we’re shut down, closed. We can’t do what we need to do to help people.”
He said the thief used a sledgehammer to bust through the glass windows at the front of the building and then smash through the drywall inside. And it appears it’s not his first time.
“He just took a sledge and beat out this entire door,” said Duane, showing a rectangular hole in the wall to his pharmacy, which is located inside a doctor’s office.
It’s the definition of smash-and-grab.
“He just kind of slid his way and fell onto the ground here,” said Duane.
Surveillance video from Monday morning shows the crook bust in through the wall and go straight to the safe.
“Once he gets through the hole, this is within 10 seconds," Duane explained.
Duane said the thief tried lock combinations like "12345" and some other variations, but they didn’t work. He said the burglar then started ripping cables out of the wall before running away because of the alarm, only grabbing a single bottle of an anti-depressant.
“I don’t think it’s a customer of ours,” Duane said. “I just think it’s a desperate, sad lowlife.”
If this MO looks familiar, it’s because News4Jax reported on the same scenario just two weeks ago. A criminal came in the same way, with the same tool, at the same pharmacy.
“I think this is the same guy,” Duane said as he cleaned up Monday morning. “He looks similar on the surveillance and it looks like he did the exact same thing.”
Monday’s damage was estimated at a few thousand dollars. Two weeks ago, $15,000 worth of medication was stolen.
“He took HIV medications, medicines for seizures, heart medications, blood thinners that are very expensive,” said Duane. “I think he was looking for narcotics, unfortunately. It’s a sad state of affairs in this country right now with addiction problems.”
Repairs are underway with no good leads, but Duane has hope the security video will bring some kind of tip so the sledgehammer-wielding wild man gets taken off the streets.
“My biggest fear is that this is going to escalate,” Duane added. “Maybe he comes back when we’re open. My biggest fear is having my employees, my patients and myself in harm’s way.”
He said other pharmacies in the city have been recently hit as well, which he blames on the opioid epidemic. He’s not sure how this crook got away. The first time he saw headlights from a possible getaway video on surveillance, this time, he didn’t see anything.
The owner said he does have insurance, but at the moment, he’s paying out of pocket to get the medication replaced and fix the building because he can’t leave the inventory without it being secured.