Pharmacy Hit Again in ‘Bold’ Break-In

WHEELING – Police called the two men who broke into the Elm Grove Pharmacy on Friday morning “bold,” saying the suspects may have spent up to an hour in the store before taking off with an estimated $50,000 worth of prescription pills.

According to Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball, two white men used bolt cutters to sever the electrical lines on the building’s exterior sometime between 3:15 and 3:30 a.m. Friday. The suspects then kicked in the back door and entered the pharmacy. Kimball said they spent the next 30 to 60 minutes inside the building, searching for prescription narcotics before fleeing the scene.

“They took their time and cleaned out the place,” Kimball said. “You have to be pretty bold to be inside of a building for that long.”

Kimball said investigators are reviewing video evidence from inside the pharmacy, but it does little to reveal the identity of the suspects. The men dressed in all-black clothing, he noted, including hooded sweat shirts and gloves.

A distraught pharmacy employee called the break-in “sickening,” noting this is the second time in four months the pharmacy has been targeted. An armed robbery attempt in May turned fatal.

On May 25, Kevin Lee Walnoha, 37, of Wellsburg entered the pharmacy with the intent of robbing the business. When he brandished a weapon and demanded prescription pills, an employee produced a gun and fatally shot Walnoha. An alleged co-conspirator, Melody Fisher, 40, of Beech Bottom was later apprehended and charged in connection with Walnoha’s death.

Days prior to that fatal encounter, the Rite Aid pharmacy in Warwood was robbed at gunpoint by a masked suspect. That man made off with around 3,500 prescription pills.

Kimball said the police department does advise pharmacies about security procedures. Typically, he said it is the police who are reaching out to those businesses, and not the other way around – something Kimball hopes will change.

A prescription drug take-back event remains scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the pharmacy on East Bethlehem Boulevard. Local residents are encouraged to bring their unwanted or unused prescriptions to the pharmacy for proper disposal.