To sell their home, Sellers must open their home to the public. Although not rampant, it is a fact that theft does occur. Theft of this nature impacts the Seller in all cases and theft of prescription drugs has a larger impact on the community. Suburban West is highlighting this growing issue in the hope that REALTORS® can better communicate this potential threat to their clients:
“Protect Your Meds” Customizable Flyer – This flyer highlights this important issue and what steps a seller can take to prevent prescription drug theft while their house is on the market. As with all of our customizable flyers, Suburban West can add your picture, company logo and contact information to the flyer for you to print or email a copy to your seller clients.
Local Prescription Drug Disposal Locations – The three counties in Suburban West’s primary membership area all have launched prescription drug disposal programs, outlined in their respective brochures/flyers:
Frequently Asked Questions – Drug Theft Prevention and the REALTORS® Role
Why steal prescription drugs?
An addict is likely to steal to feed a drug habit. Others are looking to cash in on a lucrative – albeit illegal – business model. A single pill of some prescription medicines can bring upwards of $100.
How does it happen?
It can happen during any showing of the home. Thieves work in pairs. One distracts the agent while the other proceeds through the home unattended. Without supervision it’s a simple matter to raid the medicine cabinet, nightstand or other areas where prescriptions might be stored. The culprits are long gone by the time the theft is noticed.
What is the effect on the seller?
The effect on the seller is multi-faceted. Beyond the feeling of having been violated, there is the issue of having to replace the prescription. In some cases the seller may be denied a refill right away depending on their prescription plan. This could set up dangerous health situations.
What is the cost to the community?
The use of prescription drugs by teens and pre-teens has grown. According to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 14.8 percent of high-school seniors used a prescription drug non-medically between 2011 and 2012.
How do I advise the Seller client to prevent prescription drug theft?
Suggest that the seller remove or lock up medications for the duration of any showing. Be aware of what is on display for both physical and virtual tours of the home. Note that this is good advice outside of selling a home as well. Studies have shown that most children who abuse prescription drugs get them right from their own or a relative’s home.
Is there anything the REALTOR® can do?
There are many things a REALTOR® can do to deter this (and other) theft in the homes of their seller clients.
- Consider conducting open houses in pairs. This gives the potential thieves much less opportunity to be alone anywhere in the house.
- When showing a home, insist that all members of the party stay together.
- At any showing – open house or private – ask for identification. A potential thief will be hesitant provide this. This is a good safety tip in general.
- Do not allow anyone – including appraisers, inspectors and other REALTORS® – access to a home alone or without proper identification. It’s too easy and becoming more common for potential thieves to impersonate these professionals.
- Advise the seller not to allow anyone in the home without prior communication from you (or your office) and to always ask for identification.
Are there any other issues to consider?
Yes. When implementing identification plans as discussed above, be sure to do so globally. If you require ID from one, require ID from all. Protect yourself from claims of discrimination.
What should I (or the Seller) do if a theft occurs?
Immediately contact the police. The local or state police personnel have the tools and resources to deal with this and any criminal activity.
What if I only suspect someone is ‘up to no good’?
Trust your instincts. Take your suspicions to the police. Local or state police personnel will know what questions to ask and how to proceed. Even if all you are able to do is file a report, that report and any subsequent report will help the police take appropriate action.