Burglars take almost $1m of meds from Italian warehouse

Criminals have burgled a warehouse in Italy, making off with an estimated €800,000-worth (around $940,000) of drug products.

The theft took place at a facility in Grosseto in Tuscany – operated by procurement, warehouse and logistics company Estar – and mainly involved cancer drugs, including some temperature-sensitive products, according to local press reports. It occurred sometime between the evening of Wednesday May 16 and the following morning. The identity of the stolen products has not yet been revealed.

The heist appears to have been well planned, with care taken to avoid security systems and place boxes to hide the activity from surveillance cameras, and the suspicion is that it was carried out by organised crime groups with the capacity to sell on the stolen goods.

Large-scale burglary is relatively uncommon in the pharma industry, with most incidents taking the form of pilfering of small quantities of goods or the theft of cargo, typically full truckload (FTL) incidents where the trailer and/or tractor are stolen in transit or taken via a deceptive pickup, with the criminal posing as the legitimate driver.

In the most notorious case of pharma burglary to date a massive $90m-worth of drugs was taken from an Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield, Connecticut, back in 2010. The stolen goods were eventually recovered by police and federal agents in 2012, and lengthy jail sentences imposed on the culprits.

Accoridng to cargo security specialist SensiGuard, there were 1,515 incidents of theft involving all product categories in the first three months of 2018 in Europe, a 25 per cent increase on the same period of last year. Pharmaceutical thefts accounted for a very small number of cases, it says.

Alarmingly, the report notes that thieves have been adopting a new modus operandi, particularly in the UK, where there have been multiple cases of drivers being gassed – possibly using an anaesthetic delivered via the truck’s heating system – before criminals ransack their trailers.

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