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Police arrest man for stealing 10,000 pills from PAMF

Original post made on Mar 13, 2013

Police arrested a man March 5 for stealing more than 10,000 pills of prescription narcotics from a closed pharmacy at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation at 795 El Camino Real.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 2:50 PM

Comments (19)

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm

> drugs such as oxycodone, methadone and
> morphine had been stolen from an expired
> medicine locker and locked cabinets in the pharmacy.

Well .. does this mean that all the “medicine locker” was not actually locked?

Of course, this leads us to ask—who had the keys for these areas? Was the room where the “locker” and “cabinet” were located also locked? And if so—again, we have to ask: “who had the keys?”

Wonder if this fellow gave any thought to what would happen once the loss was discovered? It would also be interesting to know how long it took him to carry 10,000 pills out of the Medical Foundation building? Sounds like there might not be an employee’s entrance with a guard that checks parcels. Wonder what procedures the good people at the PAMF will be putting in place after this to make certain that “this never happens again?”

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Posted by Franck
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Mar 13, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Does an "expired medicine locker" mean that the medicine inside that locker was expired? If so, why had it not been properly disposed of?

Stanford's most-used excuse for everything is the nursing shortage, or a staff shortage.
That is the excuse they gave me for not providing care overnight when I was hospitalized for four days. It is also the excuse they gave for not getting meals to me occasionally, for not answering my morphine alarm, for not bringing water when requested, for not giving me back my autologous blood donation, etc, etc, etc.

I am sure this is the excuse they are giving now. What if this expired medication had gotten onto the streets? How many deaths would it have caused?

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Posted by annoyed
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2013 at 9:15 pm

"franck....find a different forum or topic to complain about your treatment at the hospital, This was the PAMF. Does it make a difference if the expired locker was locked. This guy got into the locked cabinets. Do you think a lock on the locker would stop him?

Instead let's applaud the cooperation between the PAMF and the Police Departmnent to quickly bring this investigation to a conclusion before the drugs had a chance to hit the streets.

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Posted by moo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm

>> "The report stated that police were unable to estimate the drugs' relative street value because of their fluctuating prices." <<

Thank you, PAPD, for resisting the temptation to estimate a street value. Many law enforcement agencies would be only too happy to put this in the 10 figures.

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Posted by Sieglinda
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 14, 2013 at 8:47 am

What was PAMF doing with so many narcotics?? Only a hospital should have that much?

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2013 at 9:37 am

> What was PAMF doing with so many narcotics??

By the way .. neither the article, nor the police press release, mentioned if this theft of 10,000 pills was the complete inventory of pills/drugs that were held by PAMF. There easily could have been more.

Another interesting question is how PAMF/the police come by this number of 10,000 pills. Presumably PAMF has some sort of on-lie nventory system ... but do they, actually?

Oh, and as to the street price .. a little googling produces some information that Oxycodone comes in different sized portions .. which seem to command street prices from $20 to $80 per pill. Without knowing exactly how many pills, and how many types of each--there would be no easy way to estimate the street value. However, it's clear that 10,000 times any number produces a fairly large number.

What's also missing from this article is any mention of PAMF's internal security. No mention of surveillance cameras, or key-cards that would have a computer-based tracking system that could provide a nice list of possible suspects--based on when/who/where they used their key-cards.

Does make one wonder just how much internal security PAMF has installed, and operates?

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Posted by Judith
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:01 am

What is this blaming the victim business? The perp is a thief; thieves steal.

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:31 am

> The perp is a thief; thieves steal.

PAMF has an obligation to manage controlled substances which are under its control. PAMF also stores your medical records, doesn't it. Guess you're going to claim that they have no obligation to provide security for their patient's data, or any dangerous substances in their possession?

Yes, this fellow is a thief. Given the lack of information, we can't know for certain ust how much internal security is in place in their facility. But there is no reason that everything that is valuable should not be locked, and tracked with electronic key cards. If that were true, then this fellow might have given second thought to stealing--because his presence would have been linked to the scene of the crime with a simple review of the use of key cards during the period when the theft was supposed to occur.

Sorry--but leaving narcotics/controlled substances in unlocked rooms is not a very smart idea, and possibly should be subject to possile sanction by law enforcement.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:47 am

PAMF has a pharmacy on site, the pills were there. My guess is that Walgreens and CVS have more than 10,000 pills on-site too. The cabinets were locked.

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Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:49 am

Wondering, the article states that the drugs were in locked cabinets.

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Posted by Eric Van Susteren
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

Hello everyone,

Police aren't yet releasing any specific details about their investigation that aren't mentioned in their release. The reason they gave me is that the investigation is continuing, and there may be other charges coming. As for PAMF's security, I've contacted the clinic asking if they will be taking any new security measures after the theft. I have yet to hear back from them, but the article will be updated once I do.

Thank you,

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2013 at 1:14 pm

> the article states that the drugs were in locked cabinets.

Read it again. It says that some of the drugs were in locked cabinents--but not all.

It also does not mention if looted cabinents were in a locked room, or an unlocked room, or in an easily accessible hallway? And the article does not mention who was in charge of the keys? We they hanging on a key-board, or were they issued to specific individuals?

This article, and the police press release, did not mention much--other than the pills were stolen, and that the thief was caught.

If it turns out that the PAMF was in anyway irresponsible in their handling/storage of these items--the Palo Alto police would probably not want to make mention of that fact, now would they?

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Posted by The real concern
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2013 at 4:12 pm

One big issue is the expired long had they been expired? My daughter, a nurse there, said that they are supposed to be disposed of within ten days of expiration, not put in a cabinet and stored for any length of time. With age, heat fluctuations, etc, these drugs mutate and can lose potency or, worse, change into something different, usually with increased toxicity. If the thief had sold the expired drugs, he may very well have killed people.

Thanx, PAPD!

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 14, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Ok, I've had a question along these lines for awhile. How should an individual dispose of expired or surplus medications? Flush them down the toilet? The usual answer is, take them to PAMF or to the Water Quality Control Plant -- but those places explicitly say "No Controlled Substances." Does that mean no prescription medications, like those stolen in this instance? Authorities have suggested that I crush the pills, mix with ashes, and combine with cat litter, then off to landfill with the garbage.

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Posted by Good Grief, annoyed
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 14, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I agreed with "Annoyed"!!!

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Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Amazing that this guy didn't think he would be the prime suspect in this case. Can't be too bright, but at least he was holding down a job. Won't be so easy for him now. He'll wish he had thought this through a little more carefully before he acted.

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Posted by Geesh
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2013 at 1:24 am

Wondering: I think you should become a police officer so you can answer all your questions and grill the perp and the victims alike.

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2013 at 9:50 am

> become a cop and interrogate the perp

You miss the point of the comments. People steal. That’s a given. Organizations involved with “the public trust” have an obligation to recognize that fact and create an environment that thwarts stealing to a higher level than say a retail store (like Victoria’s Secret in the Stanford Shopping Center). PAMF needs to be responsible for client/patient records, for any medicines/drugs that are stored on the premises, and even other potentially dangerous substances—like radioactive isotopes that might be used for diagnosis/treatment of various medical conditions presented by clients/patients.

If someone can walk out of this facility with 10,000 pills (if in fact there were actually that many), then there is clearly an internal security problem at the PAMF. There also is the issue of whether PAMF runs background checks on its employees. Certainly hiring people who have been previously convicted of theft/burglary/drug dealing would not really be a good idea. A modern facility (which PAMF) is, should have electronic key cards—which are tracked by a computer. If PAMF does not have such a system, then people should be aware that this facility is not really state-of-the-art, and that there are going to be potential security problems until PAMF upgrades its internal security.

And what about the drugs? It’s one thing to see that this fellow would make some money—but what kind of damage could these drugs do in this community, or other local, communities? Oxycontine is pretty addictive, is it not?

The Palo Alto Police have been lecturing people about “lock-it-or-lose-it!” Wonder if they are lecturing PAMF about the apparent lack of internal security that enabled this fellow to pull off this theft?

Unless PAMF has had a number of armed break-ins in the past, then it was a sure bet that the theft was perpetrated by an employee. Who knows, there might have even been security camera coverage that recorded his walking out with the goods.

But at the bottom line—the question as to how this fellow got keys to the locked cabinets needs to be answered. (OK .. the perp is likely to be the best person to provide that information.)

No interest in becoming a cop—far more interesting work out there designing security systems that thwart crimes.

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2013 at 9:50 am

Wondering et al....

Read the article again. The drugs WERE locked up. Pharmacies and their security are strictly regulated and inspected. This thief worked at PAMF in the maintenance department, and figured out how to get past the security and gain access to the drugs.

There have been other cases at other health care locations that involved drug theft by nurses, doctors, pharmacists, etc.

It happens. Addicts--whether hardened criminals or professionals or housewives--figure out how to get their drugs

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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