Police: Prescription drug thief targeting the elderly in Tacoma

TACOMA, Wash. -- A prescription drug thief is targeting senior-living communities in Tacoma, and the victims are now warning others to be on the lookout.

Police say a young woman holding a little boy showed up at Betty Larson's door last Thursday. The woman claimed she was scoping out senior-living communities for her elderly mother.

But police say it wasn't houses she was hunting.

"And then she asked if she could use the bathroom," Larson said.

The woman went into the bathroom and closed the door, and that's when Larson believes she started rifling through her cabinets looking for pain medication.

The woman got away with pain medication meant for Larson's dog. Larson said she didn't realize anything had been stolen until she saw a notice in her mailbox from a neighbor who went through a similar incident.

Larson's neighbor told police a stranger matching the same description and scheme knocked on their door a week ago. Police say she asked to use the bathroom and stole Vicodin and pain medication meant for a bulldog named Josie.

"I was amazed that it was the same story exactly. We both thought she was a safe person and she had a baby with her," Larson's neighbor said.

Police say no matter how safe or normal a person appears to be, you always have to be careful.

"Don't let strangers in your house," said Loretta Cool with the Tacoma Police Department. "Obviously, the baby is the hook and once she's inside the home she's stealing medication."

Larson said the stranger also stole her sense of security.

"It puts you on the alert," she said. "Really on the alert, where I felt real safe before but now I wouldn't open the door for anybody."

Both victims say they're glad no one was hurt, and they're both going to invest in security systems.

Anyone with information about the the crimes is asked to call the police.