The city of Waupaca Police Department continues to see an increase in the number of people reporting their prescription medications stolen.
“People are becoming addicted to painkiller medications. They are abusing them and taking more than they should. They get to the end of it, run out and are coming here and filing complaints, saying someone stole their pain medication,” said. Detective Sgt. Brian Hoelzel, of the Waupaca Police Department.
The department’s 2011 annual report shows that in 2007, there were 11 complaints of prescription drug theft. There were 17 such complaints in 2008, 16 in 2009, 21 in 2010 and 33 in 2011.
Police Chief Tim Goke said thus far in 2012, the department has investigated 10 reports of people saying their medication was stolen or lost.
Hoelzel said when the department receives such a complaint, it investigates not only the complaint but also the background of the person reporting the theft of a prescription drug.
The investigation includes the police department contacting the physician who prescribed the medication.
“We also tell people they can be charged with filing false reports,” he said.
In some cases, those words have resulted in some people walking right out of the police station and not filing a complaint.
Last year, four people were arrested for filing false reports. They were subsequently arrested for obstructing an officer.
Hoelzel said some people are abusing their prescription drugs, while others are selling their prescriptions.
“It’s so easy to get the pain medication,” he said.
Many times, people go “doctor shopping,” because they know which physicians have reputations for prescribing medications, Hoelzel said.
“People may take a trip and hit three to four doctor offices in one day,” he said. “They may go as far as Marshfield, Fond du Lac and Green Bay. The other doctors don’t know they’re being seen by someone else.”
The state of Wisconsin needs to develop a database that would allow physicians to learn – simply by typing a person’s name into a computer – that the person in his office just saw a different physician and received a prescription, Hoelzel said.
In situations involving youth, he said children have access to these prescribed medications right in their homes.
Some take their parents’ prescriptions – others abuse the prescribed medication they are on or sell it to friends.
Goke said parents should secure all medications that are in their homes.
Those who have old or unused prescribed medications may drop them off in the lobby of the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department during business hours, he said.
Hoelzel said doses of prescribed medications should be given to children by their parents.
“The scary thing about prescription drugs,” he said, “is because it’s legal, people think they have a safety net. When they take it, they don’t realize the effects it could have on their body if they overdo it or abuse it.”