During the first six months of 2016, 86 pharmacies in Belgium were the stage for an armed robbery. This is double the amount seen during the same period in 2015.
The statistic is reported today (Friday) by the trade union representing the self-employed across all sectors (the SNI).
Over the whole of 2015, 114 pharmacies, out of 4,902 in Belgium, were the focus for attacks.
This compares to 95 in 2014 (or a 19% increase).
Christine Mattheeuws, the SNI President, quoted in a communiqué, says, “It is evident that the perpetrators of these attacks are increasingly focusing upon pharmacies.”
She goes on, “They particularly tend to carry out their attacks at the end of the day, when the cash register is full.”
She further says, “They are especially looking for liquid cash, and to a lesser extent, drugs.”
The SNI feels that it is, consequently, a must to boost electronic payments, so that there is no benefit to customers to pay in cash.
The self-employed trade union also advocates having “adequate forms of prevention” which would see prevention advisers employed within police zones to “proactively” target groups susceptible to armed robberies “to give advice upon security.”
This obviously, given the current situation, would have to include the pharmacy sector.
The SNI concludes that, “The ultimate key to limiting the number of attacks remains a strict legal approach.” It goes on to stress that “80% of thieves are habitual criminals.”