Five times in five months Eloísa Molina’s Malaga pharmacy has suffered losses at the hands of thieves during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It's maddening. We have never had so many cases in such a short time,” says Eloísa who has run the pharmacy in Calle Fray Luis de León in front of the Ciudad Jardín pavilion since 1987.
Fifteen years ago she was robbed at gunpoint and again at knifepoint two years ago – but she says she has ever been targeted as much before as this year.
She believes it is because chemists were one of the few businesses authorised to open during the first state of alarm that the thieves must think: “Where are we going to steal? Let’s go to the pharmacy.”
Eloísa said that police patrols were initially frequently seen in the area but they are less common now.
And she complains that it is now more difficult to identify and capture them because they are wearing face masks, “It is useless, they feel total impunity.”
The first of the current spate of thefts happened in June and it was captured on the store’s video surveillance cameras. It involved two women who were known to the staff. They stole cosmetic products worth 380 euros. Eloísa said, “They always stay within the minor crime bracket.” Nevertheless, at court, the judge imposed a order banning them from the store for six months.
The next theft was in September and involved a young boy who stole items worth more the 100 euros. But Eloísa said, "I didn't report it, mostly because of the inconvenience.”
A month later after giving staff a health card for a prescription – which identified her - a woman stole two items worth 140 euros from the store.
The final two thefts occurred last weekend. The first on Saturday when an individual entered the pharmacy and filled a rucksack with items. They returned on Sunday and did exactly the same.
“Apart from the economic losses, which do a lot of damage to the business, fear is spreading among some employees. That's the worst thing, ” Eloísa added.