BEECH GROVE, Ind. (WISH) — During a July robbery, an Indianapolis man told CVS employees he had a gun, four bombs and would kill everyone — including himself – if his demands for Oxycodone weren’t met, according to court records obtained by I-Team 8.
“I have a gun so do everything I say. This is a robbery. I have four bombs around this store and I will kill us all with a push of a button. Just give me what I want and we can all go home safely. No police and no trackers or I will blow this store up. Just give me: 10,000 Oxycodone 30 mg, 10,000 Oxycodone 20mg, 10,000 Oxycodone 15mg, 10,000 Oxycodone 10mg,” the court record states.
In a separate robbery at the same store two weeks later, Beech Grove Police say 24-year old Kareem Kimbrough would again approach CVS employees with a similar note demanding pills and threatening to blow up the store. Court records state that “surveillance video of the robbery showed a suspect that resembled the suspect from the July 13 robbery. The suspect appeared to be talking on a cell phone in both robberies. The notes that the suspect passed in both robberies appear to be written by the same person and the wording of both notes was almost identical.”
Indianapolis arrested 24-year old Kareem Kimbrough last week in connection to an August pharmacy robbery in Indianapolis. On Wednesday, Beech Grove authorities charged him in connection to those two July robberies.
Pharmacy robberies have plagued central Indiana this year. While authorities cannot point to a central cause, interviews with several law enforcement seem to share the same conclusion – that Indiana’s struggle with heroin and opiate-based narcotics have a fueled a black market demand for more prescriptions pills on the streets.
“I know why they are happening. There’s a huge drug problem and money is to be made with that drug problem,” said Beech Grove Detective Captain Bob Mercuri. “We had developed this suspect’s information and passed that along to the IMPD robbery unit as well as the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. I think it’s possible that based on looking at the BOLO (be on the lookout) reports that have been out there that (he) could be responsible for more than that.”
Mercuri says so far this year his small incorporated city has seen four pharmacy robberies and one attempt. That’s a far cry from Indianapolis, which has recorded more than 135 pharmacy robberies in the first nine months of 2015.
Mercuri said a combination of good police work, witness accounts and forensic evidence led police to Kimbrough. A request to interview Kimbrough at the Marion County Detention Center was not answered Thursday. Jail officials did not respond to a reporter’s email.
Court records show a photo array shown to witnesses along with other trace evidence may have linked Kimbrough to the crimes.
“I’m just glad they caught him and nobody was hurt. That is a blessing by itself,” said Stephanie Young, who works the dry cleaner across the street from the CVS.
Late last month, CVS added time-delay safes to all 150 Indianapolis-area stores in an effort to pare down the number of pharmacy robberies.
It’s a mechanism that CVS’s competitor, Walgreens, adopted more than a year ago. Phil Caruso, a Walgreens spokesman, told I-Team 8 by phone that the company has seen a decline in general in the number robberies since the devices were installed. Walgreens currently has them in 13 states.
Before accessing the medications, pharmacists must first active the safes, which are on timers and can take several minutes to open. The hope from CVS officials and law enforcement is that would-be robbers will become frustrated and leave. Such has been the case in at least one robbery attempt earlier this summer at a Walgreens near downtown Indianapolis. In that case, police records show the pharmacists told the suspect that the safe was “on a timer and that it could take awhile.” The report notes that the suspect “then took the note and left.”
Other current CVS employees who spoke to I-Team 8 by phone declined to be interviewed on camera or identified out of fear of retaliation from the company. But some said the robberies are worrisome. Others wondered why it CVS took so long to act.
At least three past employees told I-Team 8 they either quit or were let go as a direct result of the robberies.
During interviews last month with CVS company officials, they acknowledged that the high number of robberies were concerning, but that customer and employee safety were “a number one priority.”
“Our highest priority is the safety of our colleagues and our customers. We are going to do everything within our power and our resources to deter these robberies,” said Michael Silveira, CVS Vice President of Loss Prevention.