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NYPD fights prescription drug theft with tracking tech in pill bottles

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Detailed by CBS News earlier today, representatives within the New York Police Department will be working with pharmacies in the New York City area to help catch thieves that steal prescription drugs. Called “bait bottles” by the NYPD, fake packaging will be filled with look-a-like drugs and labeled to look like oxycodone as well as other popular controlled substances kept within a pharmacy. Hidden within the bottle, police have placed small tracking chips that will allow officers to quickly locate a thief that robs a pharmacy. While similar to GPS tracking, the tracking technology that relays a suspect’s location is likely battery-powered, active RFID.

raymond kellyAccording to New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the tracking program was launched in order to combat the growth of the prescription drug black market in New York City and the increase of pharmacy robberies over the last five years.

During June 2011, two pharmacy employees and two customers were shot during a robbery in which thousands of pain pills were stolen by 33-year old David Laffer at a Long Island pharmacy. Laffer was caught and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to first-degree murder during his trial in late 2011. 

When asked about the new program , Kelly stated “Prescription drug abuse can serve as a gateway to criminal activities, especially among young people. 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. 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.” In addition to the tracking technology within the pill bottles, police officers also plan to visit the 6,000 pharmacies in the New York City area to offer security tips such as improved lighting around drug storage areas as well as more effective alarm systems. 

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