Central Texas CVS stores now armed with special safes to fight crime, opioid abuse

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 2:24 AM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Every single CVS pharmacy in the state is now equipped to fight the opioid epidemic--and crime--at the same time.

“Our primary concern over the past year-and-a-half has been the COVID-19 pandemic and making sure our community is safe,” said John Fratamico, Health Hub Field Leader Director for CVS. “But one of the things we didn’t want to dismiss is the importance of the misuse of prescription drugs, which remains a focus for our company as well.”

CVS announced last week, all 851 of its Texas stores re now equipped with time-delay safes.

“It electronically delays the time it takes the pharmacy employees to open the safe,” said Fratamico. “Prescription substance abuse is high, and having these time-delay safes implemented in select states across our country is a very important initiative we are taking forward as part of our commitment to build a healthier and safer community.”

The special safes give crooks less time to do the crime--and cops more time to catch the bad guys.

“That time delay gives emergency response that time to arrive on-scene and secure the perimeter,” said Larry Adams, Asst. Chief at Woodway PSD. “If any robbers were to stick around, they would be confronted by the police.”

Officials at the Woodway Public Safety Dept. say they’ve seen it plenty of times before: pharmacies robbed and burglarized for prescription pills.

“We did have several just down the road from us on Hewitt Drive about a year, or two years ago,” said Adams. “Especially this last year, we’ve seen a big spike in opioid overdose deaths, and this helps reduce that, it helps prevent opioids from getting into the wrong hands and being abused.”

Adams says they support CVS’ effort and hope others will follow suit.

“Other pharmacies need to be looking at this kind of technology as well, this is something that hardens the target, it’s just as though you’re locking your car every night, you’re making it more difficult for the criminals to take advantage of you,” said Adams.

CVS officials explain why they believe having the safes is so effective.

“You don’t know what the time is going to be of this delay, so that’s number one, and number two--it’s a huge risk for them to take,” said Fratamico.

A risk would-be-crooks will now have to weigh every time they walk into a CVS Pharmacy in Texas as every store now has warning signs displayed at the front door.

“That in itself probably prevents the majority of the crime,” said Adams.

While the signs serve as a warning to the ‘bad guys’, they’re also meant to comfort customers and staff.

“In the past, when we didn’t have this type of technology, you never know if an individual can come in with the purpose of robbing our stores, you always have that unease, but now our employees can feel more at ease,” said Fratamico. “And then for the consumers that come in and see that signing...they’ll be ‘oh, ok, CVS has taken the steps necessary, so I feel safe shopping in my local CVS.’”

For security reasons, CVS officials wouldn’t allow KWTX to film the safes, however, they say that since they started installing them in stores in 2015, the time-delay safes, which are now in 19 states, have shown to reduce robberies by 50 percent.

Fratamico says the company’s efforts to combat drug abuse go well beyond this technology.

“We’ve also implemented those safe medication disposable units in some stores, we also work with local police on donating units, too, we’ve actually taken 250,000 pounds of unused and expired medications off the street--this could have gone into the wrong hands,” he said. “We also have a program called ‘dispose RX’, it’s a gel pack to mix with drugs to safely remove them from your home.”

He says they also have educational programs.

“We also work with our Pharmacist Teach program to go into the communities we serve and make a difference by touching the lives that can be affected because they touched prescription drugs in the wrong way,” said Fratamico.

For those who do get their hands on opioids and misuse them, Fratamico wants the public to know, CVS can assist there, too.

“One of the things our CVS stores have is we have Naloxone available to the public, so anyone can go to any of our CVS stores and they can access that opioid overdose reversal drug without a prescription,” said Fratamico.

“This will save lives,” he said.

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