Tuesday, March 16, 2010

They Get More & More Daring: Thieves Nab $70M In Prescription Drugs

Thieves staged a brazen heist at a pharmaceutical warehouse over the weekend, scaling a wall, cutting a hole in the roof and rappelling inside to steal about $70 million in antidepressants and other prescription drugs, authorities said today.

The thieves disabled the alarm at the Eli Lilly & Co. warehouse early Sunday in Enfield, where they spent at least an hour loading pallets of drugs into a waiting vehicle at the warehouse's loading dock during a wind-whipped rainstorm, police said.

The thieves, whose identities remained unknown Tuesday, made off with enough drugs to fill at least one tractor-trailer, police said.

The FBI has been called in to investigate. Authorities would not comment on whether the building had surveillance video or whether employees were being investigated.

Edward Sagebiel, a spokesman for Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly, placed the value of the drugs at $70 million. They included the antidepressants Prozac and Cymbalta and the anti-psychotic Zyprexa, he said.

The warehouse contained no narcotics or painkillers, he said.

Police were called early Sunday afternoon to the warehouse, in an industrial park in Enfield, a working-class town on the Massachusetts border.

They estimate the theft occurred several hours earlier as Enfield caught the edges of a nor'easter that battered the region with heavy rain and wind before dawn Sunday.

No vehicles were reported stolen from the site or nearby, so it's believed they arrived with one or more vehicles large enough to transport the dozens and dozens of pallets of drugs, he said.

State Police sent in a trained dog in hopes of tracking the suspects' scents but were unsuccessful, police said.

Zyprexa and Cymbalta were Eli Lilly's two best-selling drugs last year. Prozac was Lilly's first billion-dollar drug and the company's top seller before it lost patent protection several years ago.


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