Merchant asks 'who's next?' in NSB crime wave
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Harry Lodia, manager of the Marathon gas station and convenience store on North Dixie asked aloud what is likely on the minds of many merchants in the wake of a would-be robber's attempt to hold up the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy up the street when he was shot dead earlier today: "Who's next?"
With merchants already struggling to make an honest living in an ailing economy, it seems criminals are becoming more desperate, too, Lodia, said he worries about the safety not only of employees, but their customers as well.
"You just never know if you are next," said Lodia, who is keenly aware of New Smyrna Beach's recent crime wave. He's not alone.
Several merchants near the Medicine Shoppe closed shortly after the 10:15 a.m. armed robber was shot to death by a security guard hired by the pharmacy.
Merchants who asked not to be identified said they had heard the pharmacy hired a retired sheriff's deputy to work in plain clothes and provide security after rumors the pharmacy was going to be robbed of drugs -- specifically, the pain-killer Oxycodone, also known on the street as Oxycontin.
The pharmacy even posted a sign inside stating it did not stock this particular drug.
Still that didn't stop this morning's robber.
New Smyrna Beach police would not specify the type of drug the robber, described as a white man wearing a mask, sought when he stuck a gun in the pharmacist's face before the security guard shot him in the face.
This robbery attempt followed a similar one Jan. 31 at the Winn-Dixie in-store pharmacy, in which a white man wearing a hooded sweatshirt handed the pharmacist a note, stating he had a gun and wanted Oxycodone. He even specified the pill dosages in milligrams before fleeing with an unspecfied amount of the pain-killers.
Lodia wouldn't comment on his business's security measures, but said he wouldn't be surprised if more businesses armed their employees or hire armed plain-clothes security personnel.
Just the other day, Lodia told a woman who tried to steal a can of beer that he'd call the cops next time she showed up at Marathon.
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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper in Lake Mary serving Central Florida via HeadlineSurfer.com. Florida's first around-the-clock newspaper was launched April 7, 2008, in New Smyrna Beach, initially as NSBNews.net and VolusiaNews.net. Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Frederick was the top winner in the 2012 Florida Press Club contest: 1st place for Blog Writing & 3rd place each for General News Writing, Public Safety Reporting & Best Online Presence (with social media). He's received 18 major journalism awards as a breaking news, investigative reporter & city editor for daily newspapers in Florida, Massachusetts, New York & Connecticut since the mid-1980s.
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