Prescription drugs stolen from homeless shelter

SKOWHEGAN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Police are investigating more than a thousand dollars worth of prescription drugs stolen from a Skowhegan homeless shelter.

Trinity Men's Shelter noticed the missing medication and called the police early Sunday morning. The medications were kept in a locked storage cabinet that weighed over a hundred pounds. The entire cabinet was taken from the building.

Police later found the cabinet but there were no pills inside it. More than 75 residents at Trinity Homeless Shelter are without the medication they need to treat a variety of illnesses, from depression to bipolar to heart disease.

"We have one lady there who has cancer, and she has to take pills for cancer. Even if she gets a script, it's so expensive that she won't be able to get the pills," Richard Berry, who is the pastor at Trinity Evangelical Free Church and also runs the shelter, said.

Police said they think the pills were stolen by someone who used to live at the shelter and had a key to the building. Chief Edward Blais said the drugs are probably being sold illegaly, creating problems for the rest of the town.

"The consequences of these drugs reaching the street is very significant to the safety of our citizens, because they may be buying an illegal drug that they don't really know what it is," Blais said.

The church's pastor said the fact that the suspect is a former resident makes the situation even worse.

"You're taking from somebody who has nothing, that's coming in, doesn't even have a bed," he said. "And you take that from them. You're taking a lot more than drugs from these people. A lot of them, you take the heart right out of them."

A local drug store is doing what it can to help, offering a discount for the residents directly affected by the crime.

"The bottom line isn't necessarily the most important thing. A lot of times it's the patient care," Kevin Holland, the owner of Variety Drug, said. "That's why we do it, and that's why we're doing this."

The homeless shelter said this is the first time that drugs have been stolen since it opened six years ago, and that they're looking into ways to secure the pills better in the future. An anonymous donor has already given the shelter a large safe.


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