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 to view it. 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.
REALTORS® can help the fight toprevent prescription drug abuse. On a daily basis, misused prescription drugs kill more than 40 Americans, and 2,500 young people abuse a prescription drug for the first time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, an ABC News report noted that criminal prescription drug cases have risen nearly 85 percent in San Diego County alone over the past five years.
One reason Drug 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 in the most likely place they will be located. 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.
The real estate industry is taking significant measures to prevent prescription drug thefts during open houses. In particular, the Greater Association of San Diego REALTORS® has joined forces with drug rehabilitation and law enforcement officials to curb the problem. Together, these organizations have formed the Safe Homes Coalition to warn others about prescription drug thefts occurring in open houses and urge homeowners to secure and dispose of their prescriptions drugs properly. The coalition is even distributing 12,000 sealable bags for REALTORS® to secure containers during open houses. Likewise, Representative Randy Hultgren (IL) has been strongly urging residents of Illinois’ 14th Congressional District to participate in efforts to prevent prescription drug theft and abuse. Most recently Hultgren urged constituents to participate in the nationwide drug “take-back” day on April 26, 2014.
A recent REALTOR Magazine article, “Keeping Clients’ Cabinets Safe,” reported on another protective measure real estate brokers can take, called MedSafe, which can be installed inside a medicine cabinet, closet or virtually anywhere. The safe can store up to 15 bottles of prescription drugs, giving sellers peace of mind these items cannot be stolen during an open house.
REALTORS® also need to recognize where risks reside when they are staging open houses. Look for any easily-accessible locations where prescription drugs are located. Talk to your clients about ways to secure these items before prospective buyers are invited into the home. For more information on REALTOR® Safety visit, REALTOR.org/Safety