Syringe used in hold-up

By SAMANTHA HEALY

A DETERMINED drug thief threat-%ened pharmacy workers with a blood-filled hypodermic syringe in Coolangatta yesterday, before fleeing with a haul of unknown prescription drugs.

The man, described as Caucasian, 30 to 40 years old, about 183 centimetres tall with brown hair and wearing jeans and a green jacket, entered Coolangatta Pharmacy on Griffith Street just after midday.

He threatened three female employees with the syringe, demanding drugs before fleeing on foot into the crowds in the busy Coolangatta CBD.

Queensland Police would not say what drugs the man made off with, but officers were still seen patrolling the area late yesterday.

Pharmacist, Melissa, still shaken several hours later, said she was just pleased no-one was hurt in the dramatic lunchtime ordeal.

"He just came in demanding drugs with a blood-filled syringe," Melissa said.

"It was all over very quickly. We just gave him what he wanted.

"No-one was hurt. The store was empty at the time but it was scary. It's the first time it has ever happened to me."

Melissa, who only gave her first name, would not say what the thief took off with for fear of a repeat attack, but did say the store participated in the methadone program which is designed to treat heroin-dependent users.

She also would not say whether the pharmacy sold pseudoephedrine, a chemical precursor for amphetamine-type stimulants.

Gold Coast Regional Duty Officer Acting Inspector Geoff Palmer said that while the use of syringes in robberies was not common, victims should always assume they could be dangerous and just comply with the demands of the offender.

"If there's a weapon of any kind it's not worth putting yourself in danger," Act Insp Palmer said.

"Maintain composure and make as many observations as possible and write them down when the%offender has left. Look for hair colour, demeanour, any distinguishing tattoos, the more things the better.

"In this situation, the liquid was in a syringe so it is hard to know what was in it, but diseases like HIV or Hepatitis B or C can be a concern, and unfortunately they are not uncommon among users."

Act Insp Palmer said many thieves who used a syringe as a weapon were drug-related offenders.

Anyone with information which could help police should contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.



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