A family-run pharmacy has been targeted by thieves three times in less than six months – but the business’ owners say they will not be defeated.
Nash Chemists in Long Chaulden, Hemel Hempstead, is run by Jiten Raval, 30, and his 64-year-old father Mahendra.
The pharmacy was broken into in February followed by an attempted break-in in May, but during the latest incident on June 15 three staff members were threatened at knifepoint just after closing time at 6pm.
A man carrying a knife entered the dispensary, stole cash from the till and demanded a number of drugs from a locked cabinet – including heroin-replacement methadone – before he fled.
The suspect was caught by police after a pursuit which resulted in him crashing a car just off the A41 Chesham turn-off.
Superintendent pharmacist Jiten Raval, who grew up in Woodhall Farm, said: “It was traumatic for my staff.
“I came as soon as I heard. The police were here within minutes – they were out in full force.
“My staff let him take what he wanted, and I’m glad. Stock can be replaced, but people can’t.
“They have been offered support and counselling.”
But despite this latest incident Jiten and his father Mahendra – who has owned and run the business since 1981 – are refusing to be frightened by the string of attacks.
The pair have made the decision to install CCTV cameras and other security measures, including a new alarm system, reinforced doors and metal grill bars on the rear windows.
This extra work is costing the family more than £6,000 – but Jiten said this will not stop them from continuing provide vital services in the community
The pharmacy is often the first port of call for people who want advice about ailments or new medicines they have been prescribed, and helps keep the pressure off local GPs.
It offers a number of NHS services such as a Stop Smoking scheme, emergency contraception and a supervised consumption scheme for those recovering from drug addiction.
There are more than 80 people registered for the dosette box scheme – which delivers weekly prescriptions to elderly patients in the town.
> Nelson Loveridge, 25, of Honeycross Road, Hemel Hempstead, has been arrested and charged in connection with the incident.
He was due to appear at Hatfield Remand Court on Monday, June 20, charged with robbery, possession of a bladed article, criminal damage, dangerous driving, driving with no insurance and driving otherwise in accordance with a licence.