Drug Addicts Target Real Estate Open Houses

Individuals hoping to steal prescription drugs could be staking out your properties and waiting for an open house.

If you are hosting an open house in order to sell a property, you may think you want lots and lots of eyes on the house. However, certain eyes may be looking for something other than the perfect walk-in closet; they may be looking for prescription drugs. According to the Safe Homes Coalition (SHC), a newly-formed group in California, open houses are increasingly attracting prescription-drug addicts who take advantage of the open door to walk in and go through the medicine cabinets, literally[1]. Once inside, the thieves wait until they are unobserved, then search the property for prescription painkillers and other medication that may be resold individually for as much as $30 a pill[2].

SHC hopes to raise awareness of the problem through an informative campaign and also by issuing real estate agents special plastic bags to give to homeowners before an open house that can be used to secure prescriptions until all strangers have left. Other law enforcement officials say that it is also important to dispose of expired and unused prescription medications of all types rather than keeping them around the house. According to San Diego County district attorney Bonnie Dumanis, 40 Americans die every day as a result of prescription drug abuse. Dumanis hopes that the new coalition will help restrict what appears to presently be easy access to drugs during real estate open houses.

Have you ever encountered issues like this? How do you keep potential buyers from going through private items during an open house? We’d love to hear your stories!

Thank you for reading the Bryan Ellis Investing Letter!

Your comments and questions are welcomed below.

[1] http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2014/03/12/prescription-drug-addicts-target-open-houses

[2] http://www.10news.com/news/safe-homes-coalition-targets-prescription-drug-thefts-at-open-houses-031114

Comments (13)

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  1. Dianne Widowski says:

    As a realtor in NE Ohio, I ask my sellers to put away any jewelry and prescriptions when we list the house. This way, even registerd agents who have access to the home, do not have access to any medications or jewelry.

    My sellers eem to appreciate that insight.

  2. wt says:

    If your a home owner then you need to be present at all times and walk through the home with them. Don’t rely on your agent to be the keeper (they too can be dishonest and take your items). It happend to my daughter in one of her showings and she was not present only the agent and buyer that ultimately ended with an expensive ring disappearing. Really, this tells me the agent lacked responsibility and was not watching the buyers moves or that agent took the ring when the buyers left the home. Who do you blame?? I know they say that it is unconfortable when the homeowner is there, but times have changed and buyers like homeowners to be involved to ask questions. It helps incase the agent was not aware of a specific item that could eventually end up in court. Anyway, homeowners need to take more control of the showings.

    • Mike says:


      Sometimes there are more than one person looking to buy–I have always had a good friend be at the house when I was showing my house! If more than one–ask to stay together while viewing the home!

      Friend is extra protection also! Always carry concealed in home!


  3. Hire a TSA officer to cavity search buyers as they leave. What’s one more search by the Govt?

  4. Priscilla Koleshis says:

    Drugs and jewelry are not the only things to worry about at an open house, your own security is always an issue.
    Let me tell you a story about an open house here at Cape Cod, an agent did an open house at a very affordable home. Apparently he didn’t do enough of an inspection at the end of his open house. The next day the owner came down to his second home to find a woman in the home that was a bit off her rocker. She must have hid in a closet and then spent the night sleeping in his bed and eating his food. The police had to be called as she claimed it was her home. Please be sure you account for all your visitors! Make sure they all sign in and leave!!!!

  5. Roger says:

    Let them go to the pharmacy to buy them cheap like so many other countries problem solved

  6. DB says:

    When we had our open house at the our former residence, we made sure that when we left, we took all of the telephones, computer equipment and other valuables and secured them before we left the residence. We had heard that people will go to open houses and not only steal your valuables and prescriptions, but will also use your telephone and charge expensive, long-distance calls,etc.

  7. SCOTT says:

    The “Safe Homes Coalition” are you fu***** serious who comes up with this crap do these people have badges too are they going to show up on my doorstep when I have an open house and inspect my home for prescription drugs and anything that’s listed unsafe by their “coalition”!
    People whenever the word “safety” is in the title or the focus of any organization,WATCH OUT! It means more laws and regulation,more restriction and more money from us to pay for them to exist! Wonder whats next on their agenda? I asked myself the same thing about the ADA before they got
    a bill passed requiring every street corner in Ca to be torn up, redesigned and painted yellow so all the blind people walking around can see them! So please don’t support orgs. like The HSC we don’t need them common sense is all we need!

    • james ross says:

      Yes, the Safety Nazis as I call them would like to control the world. Govt. loves it also coz they can bring in new fees, fines and privacy invasion all under the guise of safety! Any questioning of their new safety rules brings a response of “are you against safety?”. We cant even ride our bikes without wearing an expensive helmet. Police will stop and ticket you for this “unsafe act”.
      I know this is off topic of this article but we need to oppose the safety nazis when they call for more useless rules/laws.

  8. Jim says:

    I am an Agent and when I have an open house at a large home with several bathrooms I take my portable cameras and put them in each area that a theft may occur. They are fake, but do the trick. I make them very obvious!

  9. Rose says:

    When I worked in real estate I once received a call about a listing and refused to meet the prospect at the site when he refused to give me even his name and telephone number. He claimed it was an invasion of his privacy to ask questions of him; I advised him I could not show him anyone’s property without properly identifying and verifying the supposedly interested parties as I had a legal obligation to the listing party. Many years ago there were several robbery and more serious attacks on lone salespersons in model houses and open homes. No one was ever caught and prosecuted. Smart realtors at open houses often partner with a mortgage person so there are never less than two people on hand, or more.

  10. Matt K says:

    There was a guy hitting open houses in my city. He would steal the realtors purses while they were roaming the house with other prospective buyers.

    Police eventually caught him.

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Category: Real Estate