Sequim police investigating two reports of missing narcotics from fire station

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — Detectives are investigating two reports of narcotics used by paramedics that went missing from the Clallam County Fire District No. 3 station in Sequim.

Detective Sgt. Sean Madison of the Sequim Police Department said that Fire District No. 3 officials reported medication missing Oct. 4 and again Oct. 6 from the district fire station at 323 N. Fifth Ave.

“It’s an investigative theory there’s a nexus between these incidents, but I can’t go any farther than that,” Madison said.

“The first one, we don’t know what happened,” he said.

“The second instance, it was a little bit more clear that they were actually stolen.”

Madison declined to say the two instances are related but said there are “similarities that make it appropriate for us to investigate them at the same time.”

No arrests have been made.

Madison said Thursday the investigation is moving forward.

“Good news is [I] hope to be done soon,” he said.

Fire District No. 3 Chief Steve Vogel said that a small plastic container containing Demerol, morphine and other narcotics was discovered missing Oct. 4 during a daily inventory.

“We’re looking for it,” Vogel said, adding that an internal investigation is ongoing.

Vogel declined to comment on the Oct. 6 incident until the police investigation is completed.

“I’m not going to make any comments until the police department has done its investigation,” Vogel said.

Vogel declined to say whether there were any signs of forced entry in the Oct. 6 incident.

The Oct. 6 call initially was responded to as a trespass burglary, Madison said, though he could not offer any more details on the investigation, including whether there were signs of forced entry at either incident.

The Oct. 6 incident is being investigated as a second-degree burglary, Madison added.

In general, a trespass is when a person enters or remains in a building or in a place, such as on a property, without permission, Madison explained.

“What that means is, you’re not allowed to be in this place, but you go here anyway,” Madison said.

Such a trespass would become a burglary if the person intends to commit a property crime while in the building or on the property, Madison said.

Regarding the Oct. 4 instance, Vogel said the plastic box reported missing was about 5 inches long, 3 inches wide and three-fourths of an inch deep.

Vogel said the medication inside likely was worth $10 to $15 but possibly less than $10.

The box was found to be missing after a daily inventory was done on the “narcotics boxes,” as they’re called, in the fire station.

The boxes are kept in a locked cabinet in the fire station, Vogel said.

District personnel have to enter a unique electronic code to open the cabinet, Vogel explained, meaning which staff member opened it at what time is recorded.

Vogel said the box could have been left in an ambulance and unaccounted for or similarly misplaced.

The internal investigation will continue “until we have a final answer,” Vogel said.

“Anytime you lose a narcotic, you have to open up an investigation,” he said.

Madison said he could not say for sure whether the second incident involved a specific container of medications, like the Oct. 4 incident; he knew only that some amount of medication was reported missing.

Madison declined to add more detail on the Oct. 6 incident because the police investigation is ongoing.

“I’m afraid it [would] be premature and inappropriate for me to comment on that yet,” Madison said, referring to whether investigators have yet identified persons of interest.

A video surveillance system has been set up in the room where the medications are kept since the two incidents happened, Vogel said.

The camera system was in the works before the medication was reported missing, Vogel explained, though the incidents did speed up its installation.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb contributed to this report.

Last modified: October 31. 2013 6:32PM
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