Opioid epidemic brings crime to Flagstaff streets

Robbers are now targeting pills in peoples homes to feed the opioid epidemic in Arizona.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Flagstaff Police Department is looking for a man suspected of breaking into homes and cars to score prescription drugs.

Thieves used to target homes for televisions and other electronics. But now, in some cases, it’s something that might be more valuable on the streets—pills to feed our state’s opioid addiction.

Deputy Chief Dan Musselman said the man was seen trying to open doors in a Switzer Canyon neighborhood off Turquoise Drive.

“He is described as a Native or Hispanic male, wearing a tan, tactical-type scarf and either an olive shirt or grey shirt, with black pants and he also had a black backpack with him,” Musselman said.

Opioid overdoses have become such a growing problem, Gov. Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency. And the epidemic doesn't just affect the state’s big cities.

“Over the years, we’ve continued to see that trend of these pills and even our undercover officers are able to purchase a lot of these pills, taking them off the street,” Musselman said.

As police removed these drugs from their community, someone was working to replenish the inventory by stealing the pills.

The Deputy Chief said in the first five days of July, police received eight calls they said may be connected.

“We do feel a lot of these burglaries and thefts are related, just from where they’re occurring,” Musselman said.

Several of those reports identified a similar-looking suspect trying to open car and home doors—all in downtown Flagstaff and in a Switzer Canyon suburb near Route 66.

“Looking for loose change, medication, small items of value,” Musselman said.

Police said this suspect was looking for the right opportunity, so they advised people keep their valuables out of sight and lock their car and home doors.

Detectives said the suspect had already scored prescription drugs in one home, leaving other valuable items behind, and was on the hunt for hydrocodone or oxycodone.

“I’m told that these pills typically sell anywhere from $10 to $25 per pill on the street,” Musselman said.

To help, police said the public should call in any suspicious behavior to 928-774-1414 and rid streets of these temptations by dropping unused or unwanted prescription drugs off at drug boxes with their local police department.

Deputy Chief Musselman said this suspect could face various burglary and theft charges.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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