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Story by Lily Leung

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Before an open house, a real estate agent’s to-do list may include a thorough cleaning of the home, clutter removal and stowing valuables in a safe.

But rarely do agents think about advising sellers to stow away prescription medications in a secure place and out of the hands of potential pill pilferers, say officials from two health education non-profit groups in San Diego County.

The North Inland Community Prevention Program and the H.O.P.E. Foundation are trying to stop a disturbing trend: Young adults posing as couples are visiting open houses with a scheme. One person distracts the real estate agent and the other rummages through medicine cabinets for pills, everything from painkiller OxyContin to ADHD drug Ritalin.

Deaths related to OxyContin alone have risen in recent years. The San Diego County coroner’s office recorded 17 between 2004 and 2006. They rose to 53 between 2008 and 20009, or 211 percent, based on numbers from county officials. Areas where the rate of OxyContin-related use is higher include Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Torrey Pines and Tierrasanta.

The misconception among teenagers and young adults is that taking prescribed drugs is safer than taking illicit drugs, said Celeste Young, program manager of the North Inland Community Prevention Program. Once in hand, the pills are either ingested or sold for $60 to $80 a pill.

Young adults are turning to open houses because it’s “much easier than bringing them (pills) over the border or purchasing them over the Internet,” Young said.

The two local non-profits and Rancho Bernardo-based company Oakwood Escrow recently handed out 200 zippered plastic bags to North County real estate professionals to encourage them to stash away prescription medications at home listings before showing them to would-be buyers.

Real estate agent Lori Shannon, who attended one of the presentations, said she had never thought about advising her clients to remove prescription pills from open houses. She will now.

“It’s a shame that we have to think about things like that,” said Shannon, owner of San Diego Legal and Real Estate Services in Rancho Bernardo. “Being a parent of a teenager, (you realize) drugs are everywhere. … Even if the homeowner does not take advantage of it, you’ll feel better to have reminded them.”

Real estate agents who may encounter pill thieves at listings are encouraged to report the incidents to police, said Young, with the North Inland Community Prevention Program.

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“IT’S NOT A NEW WAY, IT’S JUST CALLED YOUR WAY”

At Oakwood Escrow we strive to be the premier provider of Real Estate escrow services. We give our clients customized, first class service and treat them as if they are our ONLY client! In our Logo, “the single leaf is a visual reminder to all of us at Oakwood that each client we serve is unique and we must always serve our clients as if they are the only leaf on the tree”.

Oakwood Escrow provides accurate and timely closings on all of our transactions by using our innovative computerized document processing and accounting equipment. Although we appreciate and utilize the convenience of modern technology we are also always available to meet face-to-face to meet every type of need.

We are licensed by the California Department of Corporations (DOC) and are under the most stringent consumer protections in the industry. Our License Number is: 963-2606. We firmly believe in providing our clients with the highest level of honesty and integrity in compliance with all laws, regulations and the Department of Corporations (DOC) guidelines.

Oakwood Escrow will ensure that you get the attention you deserve! Each of our escrow officers will provide you with a unique and personalized experience by taking a “hands on” approach with your transaction. Our escrow officers have decades of experience and have successfully closed thousands of escrow transactions. Our escrow officers are backed by a team of knowledgeable, passionate and hard working professionals. Oakwood’s team doesn’t believe that they come to work each day, but instead believe they are helping to change people’s lives!

Oakwood Escrow is committed to providing you with the most competitive rates in the industry. Our knowledge and experience working in the Southern California area has equipped our team to successfully close transactions all over San Diego County. Including rural areas such as Julian and Borrego Springs in which you need an escrow officer who is familiar and knowledgeable in these areas to succeed.

At Oakwood Escrow we have an “open door” policy. Our office is client friendly and we make you feel like you’re coming to visit a friend. We offer public Wi-Fi in our front room and have a beautiful conference room that you can utilize for classes or meeting. You can even grab a snack in our kitchen or even watch your favorite TV show on our big screen TV. We treat you like family!

Consider Oakwood Escrow to be your community resource. We have relationships with many Real Estate vendors in the community which we can refer you to when needed. We have informational and educational classes in our conference room weekly, which are open to all Real Estate professionals and the surrounding community. We firmly believe in ‘giving back’ to our community and beyond. We are involved in local philanthropic and charity events and are always looking for new ways to make a difference.

Our top priority is to provide you with a successful and smooth transaction! At Oakwood, we believe that the escrow process is the glue of the transaction. We promise to guide and support you through your closing with ease. We make the buying and selling process enjoyable and fun. Escrow is our ONLY job and we are committed and work tirelessly every day to make sure we make you a client for Life!!

 

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RBBA Christmas Tree & Menorah Lighting: Tuesday, December 4th, at Pactrust Bank From 5:30pm-6:15pm – Seasonal music will be performed by the Mt. Carmel High School Choir and The MenschTones from Adat Shalom Temple. The lighting ceremony and music are free for all.

From 6:15pm-7:30pm – The reception will continue inside Pactrust Bank. An excellent array of appetizers will be catered by RBBA member restaurants. Music provided by RBBA member, Sandy DeVito Combo. Members are free/non-members $15. The first drink is always on the RBBA.

Bernardo Winery Holiday Nights: Celebrate the holidays at the Bernardo Winery this year during Holiday Nights, on Dec 16th, 17th 18th and 19th from 4-8pm. Our 120 year old Winery will be lit up for the holiday season with thousands of twinkling lights and holiday festivities for the whole family. Step back in time and celebrate the joy of the holiday season among the old world style buildings, olive trees and old fashioned hospitality of the Bernardo Winery! Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be making appearances nightly!

Poway Holiday Home Tour: The Poway Chapter of the National Charity League hosts a tour of three homes decorated for the holidays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 4. Proceeds benefit the Poway Senior Center, the PUSD After School Homework Club and the Gayle Kennedy Memorial Scholarship Fund. Tickets: $25. Holidayhometourtickets@gmail.com or chaps5@cox.net.

Carmel Mountain Fest: Carmel Mountain Ranch Holiday Festival is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 5 on Carmel Mountain Road between Highland Ranch Road and Stoney Peak Road. The fair features 200 booths with arts and crafts, businesses, health, food, public service and religious exhibits along with carnival rides, kids games and food, a Classic Car Show, and all-day entertainment. www.sdncc.com.

Hanukkah Party: Temple Adat Shalom presents the Annual Hanukkah Party 4 p.m. Dec. 5 at the temple, 15905 Pomerado Road, Poway. Menorah lighting, songs latke supper followed by cookie decorating, dreidel playing and candle making. Led by Rabbi David Castiglione and Cantor Lori Frank Reservations by Dec. 1. $8; children $4, under age two free. (858) 451-1200 or www.adatshalom.com.

Holiday of Lights: The 16th annual tradition opens continues through Jan. 2 with more than 400 displays of lighted scenes such as Candy Cane Lane along the racetrack at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Holiday hayrides are Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, 10 and 17, every half-hour, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets: $14 per car up to five people. Hayrides: $10. See discounts at www.sdfair.com

Balboa Park December Nights: The nation’s premier holiday festival, will take place for the 35th consecutive year on Friday, Dec. 7, 5-10pm, and Saturday, Dec. 8, noon-10pm. As always, the event brings families and friends together to spread holiday joy, learn more about the cultural value of Balboa Park and kick-off the “most wonderful time of the year.”