POLICE: Seniors are drug theft targets - KMSP-TV

POLICE: Seniors are drug theft targets

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

The Hennepin County sheriff's office is warning seniors to be careful with their prescription medications amid growing reports of thieves breaking into homes and stealing drugs.

In November 2012, 64-year-old Byron Smith shot and killed two teenagers who broke into his Little Falls home possibly looking for prescription drugs.

Last week in Sandstone, a man in his 70s awakes to intruders, shoots and kills a person -- some reporting the thieves were looking for prescription drugs.

"We're trying to take a part in taking a piece, a link out of the chain getting rid of this medication so that can't be a contributing factor," Lt. Bob Staupe with the Hennepin County sheriff's office said. According to Staupe, it's a growing problem -- those addicted to pills are targeting seniors.

"They are vulnerable, sometimes they don't remember that they have the medication it sits in the cabinet for year and years on end," Staupe said.

Over the past year they've met with 26 senior living facilities, educating them on having unused or expired drugs in their homes.

They're also teaming up with North Memorial Medical Center, creating the video, "Medicine: It Cures, It Kills," to warn people about the problem.

Leeann Mortensen with North Memorial said they're also pushing seniors to get rid of their medicine -- 6 different drop boxes have been placed around the county. In 22 months, the sheriff's department has collected nearly 18,000 pounds of drugs.

"It's sad to think that they are coming in the middle of the night or holidays and somebody is coming in looking for drugs because they have an addiction" Mortensen said.

Through education and easy disposal, Hennepin County is hoping to prevent the crimes before they happen.

3 WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF

1. Don't let people know you have drugs in your home.

2. Put them in places like your bedroom or a drawer, some place not obvious for people to look.

3. Know what you have in your home so if it goes missing, you'll know

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