September 29, 2017

Securing Prescription Drugs During Open Houses

UPDATE: A member of the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® in May 2019 reported a suspicious individual who fits the characteristics and actions of the person reported to the Association back in 2017 (see below). The man has gone by the names Jeff Kaplan, Jeff Goldberg and, most recently, David Kaplan.

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A member of the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® has recently reported an individual who may be attending open houses with the sole purpose of stealing prescription medications. While no formal complaint has been filed with police, other agents have chimed in and said they, too, have possibly encountered this individual.

Description: The man has been described as being in his 60s. He has gray hair, a thin build, and wears glasses. The man claims to be on the phone with his wife, who was not able to attend the open house. He has twice given a fictitious email address and phone number. He may drive a silver or dark gray SUV or hatchback-type vehicle.

Securing prescription drugs during open houses is a precaution all REALTORS® need to remind sellers to prioritize during the selling process since they will be inviting the general public into their home. In addition to drug abuse, there is big money to be made in the sale of certain prescription drugs, and open houses are among the easiest ways for individuals to acquire them.

Prescription Drug Sales

One reason thieves target open houses is because homeowners don’t consider their prescriptions to be items of discernible value. However, when you consider the street value of some prescription drugs can total into the thousands of dollars, it is no wonder why someone would want to steal them.

The ease of taking prescription drugs from an open house is the main reason homes are targeted. Consider the instance where an individual asks to use a bathroom during an open house. This affords an opportunity to lock the door and quickly search for prescription drugs. Once found, thieves can easily place dozens of pills into their pocket and return the empty container exactly as they found it. Usually no one will notice the pills are missing until the thief is long gone.

Abuse of Prescription Drugs

REALTORS® can also help the fight to prevent prescription drug abuse by working with their clients to secure prescriptions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and so have sales of these prescription drugs. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids."

recent report in The Morning Call, which cites the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, states that 17.8 out of 100,000 people died of an opioid overdose in Pennsylvania in 2014.

Take a Proactive Approach

REALTORS® need to recognize where risks reside when they are staging open houses. Before inviting prospective buyers into a home, REALTORS® and their cleints should:
  1. Secure medications in the same way that you would a wallet, checkbook, and credit cards.
  2. Place prescription drugs in a locked container, hide them in a location that it would take a significant amount of time to find.
  3. Remove all controlled substance prescriptions such as: pain medications, anti-anxiety drugs and all medications used for the treatment of ADD and/or ADHD.
Should you catch someone in the act of stealing prescription medications or if a client reports them missing, contact the local police.

For more information on REALTOR® Safety visit, REALTOR.org/Safety

Sources: Securing Prescription Drugs During Open Houses, The Member's Edge Blog, National Association of REALTORS®.