Thieves tunnel into chemists

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Audacious thieves were foiled in their attempt to tunnel their way into a Derry pharmacy in the city centre at the weekend.

The would-be thieves gained access to a flat above a neighbouring restaurant on the Strand Road and broke through to the building next door on the third floor above Sweeney’s Chemists.

They managed to break through two floors down to the chemists, but failed to gain access to the shop itself.

Owner Killian Johnston says it was the level of planning the thieves had gone to, which had surprised him most.

“When we first arrived in and worked out what had been going on I expected them to have used a sledgehammer to gain access,” he explained.

“But instead they had cut neatly though the walls and they had managed to work their way through three brick walls.

“There wasn’t much damage done and they didn’t do any damage to the shop itself.”

Mr Johnston was first alerted to the attempted break-in when the burglar alarm went off around 9.30 on Sunday evening.

“We were called out and had some difficulty getting access to the shop because the locks to the shutters at the front had been gummed up with something,” he said.

“When we did get in we couldn’t find any sign of a break-in at that stage but then the alarms when off again at about 11.30 and it was the same thing with something having been put in the locks again.”

Local SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey said to find thieves attempting to break into a chemists’ shop was a very disturbing development.

“This is very worrying for the business community at a very difficult time for the economy,” he said. “The fact that whoever carried out this crime put in the effort to plan this in such depth must be a major concern,” he said.

“It is obvious that a lot of thought and planning went into this operation. As I understand it they managed to work their way through three levels of bricks in the property.

“It is worrying that they were after drugs, possibly for the monetary value of them or for themselves. I would urge anyone who has any information to take it to the police.”