AUGUSTA (AP) — Law enforcement officers from around Maine are being sworn in as special federal agents as part of a cooperative effort to fight the rapid rise of pharmacy robberies in the state.

Maine’s 58 pharmacy robberies in 2012 were more than double the previous year.

The 18 state, county and local law enforcement officers being sworn in Thursday will assist federal agents investigating drugstore robberies and prescription drug abuse.

U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty told the Kennebec Journal ( ) the officers will have statewide authority, but will typically respond to robberies in their area. He says additional officers could be sworn in if the need arises.

Police are also distributing signs to pharmacies announcing that those who rob the pharmacy or break in after hours for prescription pills can be charged federally.

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