FAKE tan and cosmetics were the prime targets of shoplifters in a crime spree that hit almost three-quarters of pharmacies this year.
A new survey reveals a major surge in robberies and shoplifting at chemists around the country.
The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) said its "shocking" research shows 71pc of pharmacists fell victim to crime, and weapons were used in one in four raids.
It also showed that 84pc of the pharmacists fell victim to more than one crime.
Shoplifting made up 90pc of the crime, and robbery 22pc, according to the survey of 157 pharmacies around the country this month.
The union called for more gardai to police shopping areas, a more rapid response to crimes, more CCTV in public areas and tougher sentences for offenders.
It said three-quarters of pharmacists who fell victim to crime reported it to gardai, but over a third felt the response was inadequate.
More than half who decided not to report a crime did so because they felt the perpetrator would not be charged.
Almost all pharmacists have invested in CCTV to protect their staff and businesses.
IPU President Rory O'Donnell said the high level of crime showed that too many criminals felt they were unstoppable.
"The gardai and the judiciary must send a stronger message to criminals that they will be stopped and that criminal behaviour will be punished severely."
He said shoplifting and robbery should never be seen as petty or victimless crime.
"There is a perception that crimes against business are victimless crimes and consequently are not treated as seriously as they should be."
He said staff and customer safety was at risk, while crime threatened jobs and morale.