NEW YORK – Police in New York City plan to combat the theft of painkillers and other highly addictive prescription medicines by asking pharmacies around the city to hide fake pill bottles fitted with GPS devices amid the legitimate supplies on their shelves.
The New York Police Department believes the so-called "bait bottles" could help investigators track stolen drugs and locate suspects.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is expected to unveil the plan Tuesday at a La Quinta, Calif., conference on health issues hosted by former President Bill Clinton's foundation.
In prepared remarks provided in advance of his appearance, Kelly says the initiative was prompted by a spate of high-profile crimes associated with the thriving black market for prescription drugs, including the slaying of four people on Long Island during a pharmacy holdup in 2011. He also cites the case of a retired NYPD officer who, after retiring with an injury and getting hooked on painkillers, began robbing drug stores at gunpoint.
Prescription drug abuse "can serve as a gateway to criminal activities, especially among young people," the commissioner says. "When pills become too expensive, addicts are known to resort to cheaper drugs such as heroin and cocaine. They turn to crime to support their habit."
The NYPD has begun creating a database of the roughly 6,000 pharmacies in the New York City area with plans to have officers visit them and recommend security measures like better alarm systems and lighting of storage areas. Kelly says it also will ask them to stock the GPS bottles containing fake oxycodone.
"In the event of a robbery or theft, we'll be able to track the bottle, which may lead us to stash locations across the city," he says.
There have been similar attempts to track prescription drugs on a limited basis but the NUYPD claims this would be the first widespread effort.