Bill Lease never knew how many lives were impacted by drug addiction until someone he knew died.
“It’s affected everybody and all walks of life,” said Lease, the president of the Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors.
That acquaintance of Lease, Theresa Plummer, died in November. Investigators said Plummer cleaned up after her son overdosed in November. She died the next day at the hospital. Her son died the day after that. Police said she likely came in contact with the drugs while cleaning, which caused her death.
“Never even thought about that side of it. Just somebody coming in contact with the drugs,” Lease said.
Lease said realtors worry about the drug epidemic on a daily basis: whether it’s finding drug paraphernalia in homes or finding squatters breaking into vacant or blighted properties to do drugs or steal things.
Police said realtors – or anyone – should be careful not to touch any drug paraphernalia like powders or syringes. Instead, they should call police.
“As soon as they see it, get out of the house. If you see an unknown substance and you’re not sure what it is, whether it’s methamphetamine or opiates, just get out of the residence and call your local police department,” said Sgt. Jason Shuman from the Richland Twp. Police Department.
Police said realtors and homeowners also need to be careful to hide medicine and valuables during open houses.
“Lock everything. What you can take with you I would. Firearms, jewelry, medications,” Shuman said.
Lease plans to reach out to law enforcement to set up an informational meeting with other realtors, because these safety tips could protect more than just his colleagues.
“Not just to protect their safety, but the safety of their clients,” said Lease. “It’s had a really drastic impact on what we do.”