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Hosting an open house? Lock up your valuables — and Vicodin

For sale sign

New Jersey’s opioid epidemic is so severe that its top law enforcement official is enlisting real estate agents in the fight.

At a budget hearing Wednesday, Attorney General Christopher Porrino said the abuse of heroin and fentanyl and misuse of illegally obtained prescription drugs remains one of the state’s most pressing issues.

He outlined a number of initiatives underway to combat it – including a letter he recently wrote to real estate agents urging them to get home sellers to secure their prescriptions.

“Painkillers left in medicine cabinets are being stolen by people posing as possible house buyers on Sunday, going into Realtor open houses, saying they need to use the bathroom and then cleaning out painkillers,” Porrino said. “It’s a real issue.”

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Porrino said 4 of every 5 heroin users began their addiction by abusing prescription painkillers.

He said recent drug investigations have resulted in the surrender of 23 medical licenses, five pharmacists’ licenses, one dentist’s license and a psychiatrist’s license, as the state seeks to clamp down on unnecessary issuances of controlled dangerous substances.

New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at

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