San Diego Coalition Hopes To Prevent Prescription Drug Theft At Open Houses
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in San Diego and across the country. It is estimated 40 people die every day due to the misuse or abuse of prescription medication.
Now, a San Diego coalition is focusing on safe prescription drug use, storage and disposal. Their first effort is aimed at combating prescription drug theft at open houses.
The Safe Homes Coalition is comprised of businesses, nonprofits and the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors. The group is working with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.
Before an open house, it is common for real estate agents to do a thorough cleaning, remove clutter and stow valuables in a safe place. But rarely do they think to advise homeowners to secure their prescription drugs.
Leslie Kilpatrick, president of the San Diego Association of Realtors, said it is important for homeowners to know about prescription drug theft.
“People selling their homes almost always lock up their jewelry, cash and other small valuable items, but many are not aware that prescription drugs in their home are a target,” Kilpatrick said. “We are hoping to reach these people, so that they know to store their prescription drugs in the trunk of their car of another safe place when their home is open to the public.”
The District Attorney’s Office reports prosecution of prescription drug cases has gone up 84 percent in the past five years, but Mike Barletta of the Sheriff’s Department said prescription drug theft is not a widely reported crime.
“What we’re finding is that in interviews we’re doing with kids who are going to juvenile hall or during their arrest, to ask where did you get the drugs...They’ve admitted to taking them in these types of opportunities,” Barletta said.
Thefts of prescription drugs have only been incidental so far, but the Safe Homes Coalition is creating a survey for realtors to fill out, in hopes of getting a better sense of the problem.
All county sheriff’s stations accept prescription drugs for proper disposal. San Diego usually collects 20,000 pounds of prescription drugs on their twice-annual “take back” days. The next one is scheduled for April 26.