REALTORS®, please do not work in Denial, Ohio.

A REALTOR® friend of mine was working with a prospective buyer she suspected of stealing prescription drugs during a showing. Although she called the listing agent before an upcoming showing, the seller was not notified, and ultimately drugs were taken during the viewing. The seasoned buyer’s agent, along with the homeowner, willingly offered to work with the local authorities to set up a sting to assist authorities in obtaining enough concrete evidence to arrest the thief. The Franklin County Sheriff arrested the fake buyer at the listing, while her children sat in the car after she stole drugs from the medicine cabinet wired with a camera. The fact remains that if law enforcement does not stop OxyContin® thieves, you or I may find them at one of our listings stealing from our client victim.

Opioid overdoses have caused over 5,000 deaths each year in Ohio. According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids™, one in four teens will misuse or abuse a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime. Additionally, recent data show that about 70 percent of the children in Ohio’s child welfare programs have an opioid-involved parent. This epidemic is costing Ohioans just under $5 billion each year and is costing our communities the loss of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers.

The Ohio Opioid Education Alliance (OOEA) is a coalition of companies, trade associations and business owners who are committed to raising awareness about the opioid crisis by providing information and resources to help prevent the next generation from abusing prescription opioids. The OOEA produced the ad campaign about the fictional town where people maintain the “not my kid” mentality in the unblemished “not my community” city of Denial, Ohio. [dontliveindenial.org]

Ohio REALTORS®, and recently Columbus REALTORS®, have become partners with the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance. Additionally, the Columbus REALTORS® Foundation, the charitable arm of the Columbus REALTORS®, voted to support OOEA with a $1500 donation. As Columbus REALTORS®, let’s not work in Denial, Ohio. Columbus REALTORS® provides drug deactivation bags, free of any charge. These drug disposal packs may be obtained by stopping in the Association store.

I spoke with my Chief of police about what a few things REALTORS® should do during this opioid crisis. A couple of suggestions were to make a prep checklist for all sellers. Besides coaching Sellers with obvious helpful hints such as staging suggesting and or hiding jewelry and financial papers, alert them to secure their prescription drugs. Additionally, should you suspect drug theft during a showing, do not confront the suspect. Call and report your concern to the listing agent, your broker, and the police.

As REALTORS®, we are deemed to be the strong pillars in our community. Often, we act much like a concierge service, connect our clients to services they need, serve on boards and commissions, and donate volunteer hours to improve the neighborhoods where we live. Opioid abuse awareness is one more arena where we, as REALTORS®, can make a difference and possibly saves lives. Let’s not work in Denial.