Cops thinks all people taking opiates are addicts/diverters ?

Drug theft reports now get extra scrutiny

http://www.journal-news.com/news/news/crime-law/drug-theft-reports-now-get-extra-scrutiny/nnSs5/

BUTLER COUNTY —

Cleta Leugers was surprised when she called New Miami Police earlier this month to report that her anxiety medication had been stolen and was told the department no longer took drug theft reports.

“They told me they didn’t take reports because there was so much drug activity,” Leugers said. “I don’t think that’s right.”

New Miami Police Chief Dan Gilbert said his department in the Butler County village of 2,200 does not take drug theft reports mainly because many of the theft reports were fraudulent ones filed by drug abusers and dealers.

“We don’t want to be a part of the pipeline putting more drugs on the streets,” Gilbert said, adding reports are taken on a case-by-case basis.

Leugers said her anxiety pills were stolen by some boys who were cleaning her house. She believes they took pills from her twice, the second time right after she filled her prescription.

Because the pharmacy would not re-fill the prescription without a theft report from law enforcement, Leugers said she has been sick from withdrawal, but she is more concerned about someone overdosing on her medication.

“It would be really bad if someone hurts themselves on my medication, and they are going to come back on me,” she said.

However, Gilbert said there were “some questions” about Leugers’ account of how her medication was stolen.

With prescription drug abuse rampant, it’s easy to see why law enforcement officials might be suspicious when a person reports his or her medication stolen for a second or third time. Many area police departments are trying to stem the tide of fraudulent drug theft reports by making them tougher to file.

Gilbert said New Miami is no different than the rest of Butler County and the state where opiate abuse and heroin addiction are an epidemic.

“We have to be responsible to the community, and we are not going to facilitate additional crime by taking bogus drug theft reports,” the chief said, adding the department has seen positive changes and now takes “very few” drug theft reports.

New Miami Police are not alone when it comes to drawing a hard line on drug theft reports. Most police agencies do some type of check or investigation, especially when a theft of opiates or benzodiazepines is reported.

Maj. Mike Craft, of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies have the discretion to not take a report if they feel one isn’t warranted, but “we don’t have an exact policy.”

What the sheriff’s office does have is the Butler County Undercover Regional Narcotics Unit, which it uses to prosecute those suspected of using a theft report to get more drugs illegally.

“I would rather have them take the report, then turn it over to the B.U.R.N. unit for investigation and bust their ass,” Craft said.

Hamilton and Middletown police take drug theft reports, but they are assigned to a detective for investigation before the reports are released.

In Middletown, if there is nothing suspicious, a detective in the narcotics unit may just conduct the investigation with a phone call. But if the person has a drug history or has reported drug theft more than once, more investigation will take place, including checking the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS) that tracks prescription history for controlled substances.

“We have done it for years,” said Maj. Mark Hoffman, of the Middletown Division of Police. He added that fraudulent reporting of drug thefts is common, but has tapered off in recent years.

“I think it is commonly understood that it is one of the things that contributed to the heroin epidemic,” Hoffman said.

OARRS, established in 2006 through the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, is available to prescribers, pharmacists and law enforcement officers. Prescriptions for controlled substances must be entered to OARRS within 24 hours, according to Chad Gardner, director of OARRS. It is a tool to assist health care professionals in providing better treatment for patients with medical needs while quickly identifying drug seeking behaviors.

Hamilton police Sgt. Ed Buns said there’s no doubt bogus drug theft reports are made, so each report is assigned to a detective. Some may also follow up with a call to the doctor, if they suspect any abuse.

While Buns said he doesn’t recall seeing an inordinate amount of drug theft reports, he knows pharmacies have become more strict about having a report before refilling.

“I know at the Walgreens on High Street, they have what they call ‘frequent fliers’ who come in often to try to get refills,” he said.

If Fairfield police are suspicious about a drug theft report, they provide the person with a form to have the pharmacist fill out after the person is checked out through OARRS.

“They can have the pharmacist check them out and fill it out then return it to us for the report,” said Fairfield Officer Doug Day. “We don’t get many back.”

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