Prilosec becoming increasing target in retail, pharmacy thefts

Drug boosts euphoria from methadone


A recent attempt to steal a large amount of Prilosec from a local store probably is not the beginning of long-term heartburn for local police or pharmacies.

Yet Prilosec is one of the medications illegal drug users and manufacturers look to for enhancing their high.

That could be why five people recently tried stealing more than 100 boxes of the over-the-counter heartburn pills from the Wal-Mart here.

Police spokesman said it was the second foiled attempt this year to steal a large quantity of the drug from the store.

The suspects were caught before they left the property, but didn't explain their motivations to Sebastian police. But according to the U.S. Justice Department, Prilosec is believed to increase or intensify the high when taken with methadone.

A Maryland drug task force noted an increase in thefts of Prilosec in Baltimore last year, federal officials said. But locally, no law enforcement agency in Indian River County had a report of the drug being stolen prior to the Wal-Mart incident.

"Organized retail theft has been a growing concern," Walgreens corporate spokesman Michael Polzin said.

It became such a concern a few years ago that Sudafed - a cold medicine that illegal drug users highly coveted - was taken off the shelves of many stores and placed behind the pharmacy counters. However, Prilosec hasn't been a frequent enough target for pharmacies to do the same thing with the medication, Polzin said.

Sebastian police apprehended three of the five suspects in the Wal-Mart shoplifting attempt. Yaitza Lopez Ramos, 23, of Orlando, and Oscar Armando Solorzano, 25, address unknown, posted bond while the third charged suspect, Jose Luis Soriano-Gutierrez, 25, address unknown,, remained in the Indian River County Jail as of Friday.

Police said the group took turns going into the store, grabbing several boxes of Prilosec at a time and filling an empty vacuum cleaner box in a shopping cart. The suspects managed to swipe 109 boxes from the shelves, worth more than $2,300, police said. But their efforts were spotted by store security officers.