'My children were in the shop... I kept thinking I had to press the panic button' - Pharmacist describes armed raid terror
A pharmacist has described her terror after two armed men barged into her chemist while her husband and two children were inside.
Annemarie Horan, who is based in a pharmacy in Terenure, told of how the two men raided her shop on a busy Saturday morning.
The pharmacist spoke out as the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) reports crime against pharmacies to have reached "crisis levels", with three out of four premises recording a negative experience.
Speaking to RTE Radio One's 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' programme, Ms Horan said she let out a "blood-curdling yell" when she noticed the two men.
"It was a busy Saturday morning around three years ago and there were several customers in the shop," she said.
"My children were there as well. They had come in with their dad to say 'hi' on their way home from football.
"They went into the dispensary and I had my back to the door," she continued.
"These two men came in, they were all muffled up wearing scarves.
"I didn't know at the time but a woman in the Credit Union had seen them walk across the carpark and had called the gardaí.
"I left out a blood-curdling yell, in my mind it was to warn John to take the boys out to the back garden but they came into the shop."
Ms Horan said her main concern was to hit the panic button in the pharmacy, but it was difficult as the two men were "completely shaking and screaming".
"The guy had the gun in my face and was shoving me into the dispensary and telling me to open the till.
"I was trying to touch the panic button and he pushed me away.
"They asked John for drugs but he said he wasn't a pharmacist and didn't know where they were," she continued.
"They focused back on me. I began to get drugs out then slowly, I was still a bit stunned.
"I kept thinking I had to press the button. I finally did and one of them was saying, 'Come on, we need to go'.
"Maybe I'm describing them as more rational as they were. They were completely shaking and screaming.
"It was just more stressful than I'm describing."
Ms Horan said she doesn't feel "as safe or as comfortable" as she did in her workplace before.
"When someone comes in now, I always look up," she added.
The IPU report also confirmed that 97pc of pharmacies have invested in CCTV to protect their staff and their businesses.
And one in four of the incidents have been described as "violent".
IPU President Daragh Connolly described the new figures released by the union as "shocking".
He said he was particularly concerned at the level of violent crimes against pharmacy staff.
"It's extremely worrying and utterly unacceptable," he said.
“Almost one in four cases against pharmacies are ‘violent’ in nature, involving not only a physical threat but also a substantial psychological threat to victims.
"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," he continued.
"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 research also found that 92pc of pharmacies who were victims of crime experienced shoplifting, while 19pc experienced robbery and 6pc experienced a raid.
One-third of pharmacists decided not to report a crime as they felt the perpetrator would not be charged.
Mr Connolly continued; “It is not an exaggeration to say that crime against pharmacies has reached crisis levels.
"The appalling level of crime should send out a strong message to the authorities that unless immediate action is taken, criminals will continue to see retail businesses, including pharmacies, as an easy target."