- Albertsons has finished installing time-locked safes at all of its more than 1,700 in-store pharmacies in an effort to create what the grocer called "a safer environment for customers and employees," according to a press release on Wednesday.
- The project, which started in early 2020, has led to a "substantial reduction" in attempted robberies at pharmacies run by Albertsons, the supermarket chain said.
- Albertsons has stepped up its emphasis on stopping crime in its stores as retailers place more attention on preventing crime amid the pandemic.
The time-locked safes Albertsons has put in its pharmacies during the past two years have proven to be an effective deterrent to would-be attackers bent on stealing controlled substances, the retailer said.
Equipped with clocks that prevent access to their contents until a predetermined time, the safes have not only cut down on attempted thefts, but they have also made stores safer for customers and store employees, according to Albertsons.
In an illustration of the risks grocery store pharmacies face, police in Montgomery County, Maryland, on Tuesday arrested two people suspected of committing a series of armed pharmacy robberies, including two at the Giant Food location outside of which they were taken into custody.
In December, nearly $2,500 of over-the-counter medications was stolen from a supermarket run by The Giant Company in Warwick Township, Pennsylvania, PennLive reported.
Albertsons is not alone in turning to safes to ward off potential robbers. In November, CVS announced it had added time-delay safe technology to all of its 392 pharmacies in Illinois, including locations in Target stores, in connection with an effort by that state's attorney general to combat organized retail crime.
Midwestern grocery Hy-Vee has taken its efforts to prevent criminal activity in its stores to a higher level, announcing in late December that it is deploying its own team of security officers to an undisclosed number of its approximately 285 grocery stores. The retailer did not indicate if the officers would be armed, but said they "are specially trained to defuse situations and equipped to protect the safety of both Hy-Vee customers and employees."
Organized retail crime poses a growing threat to retailers both in their stores and online, and the problem has grown worse because of the pandemic, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
These crimes cost retailers an average of $700,000 per $1 billion in sales, and three-quarter of retailers reported seeing an increase in organized retail crime in 2020, an NRF survey that year found.
In its 2021 survey of retailers on security, 64% said of respondents said following threats of organized retail crime has become "somewhat" or "much more" of a priority to their organization in the last five years.