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The Yankee Express

Shoplifting costs everyone; drug take-back program

By Chief Steven J. Wojnar
Dudley Police Department
When people see criminal charges in police logs or other places, questions for this column are often asked. The charge of shoplifting is always interesting, as it contains so many parts. I was asked to explain shoplifting by “asportation.” 
Shoplifting, under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 30A, contains several ways a person can commit a violation.  Asportation is one of these terms and it is contained in the first section of the law.  It is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “The act of carrying a thing away; the removing of a thing from one place to another.” This is the most common offense people associate with shoplifting. The definition can be rather complex, however; it generally involves intentionally taking possession of an item and carrying it away from the place in which it is stored. The most common example of this is when a person goes into a store, takes an item, and leaves without paying for it. The shoplifting statute does contain many other charges as well. They include concealment, altering merchandise, label switching, and more.  As for the concealment portion, the mere act of taking an item and placing it in your pocket, without leaving the store, could possibly be considered as shoplifting.  If you take the price tag off one item and place it on another, it can also qualify as a violation under this section.  
Shoplifting costs the retail industry billions of dollars each year and the losses are passed on to the paying customers.  Penalties can include a fine or jail time, depending on the value of the item. Police officers also have a statutory right of arrest for this charge without a warrant.
Drug take-back
I wanted to take this opportunity to inform the residents of Dudley that on Saturday, April 24, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Dudley Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. This has been a popular and much requested program in the past.  I wanted to provide some information to people once again on this event.
  The Drug-take-back has been held several times over the years in Dudley. Last Spring’s event was cancelled due to COVID-19 (as were numerous other activities). Our last event took place this past October.  A large quantity of prescription medications and medical sharps were taken in at that time. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health need.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.  Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses.  Studies show that most of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.  In addition, people are advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.  Thanks to the effort of District Attorney Joseph Early’s Office, we now have a permanent Drug Disposal Kiosk located in our Police Station Lobby.  These items can now be disposed of locally at any time during the year. Other communities have these kiosks at their police stations or other town buildings.  If you are not from Dudley, be sure to check with your community for one of these disposal locations.    
In addition to the prescription disposal, officials from Harrington Hospital have once again generously offered their assistance to dispose of medical sharps (needles, etc.) on this same day.  Collection bins will be on hand to dispose of these items properly and safely as well.  
A number of these programs will take place on this same day in communities all over the area.  If you are not a Dudley resident, please check with your local officials for a disposal site near you.  In Dudley, bring your medications to The Dudley Police Department located inside the Dudley Municipal Complex at 71 West Main Street Dudley, Ma.  We thank everyone in advance for their participation in this worthwhile program.    
As the pandemic continues, we ask everyone to stay safe and continue to take the necessary precautions to protect yourselves. For those eligible, vaccination information can find it at or by calling 508-949-8036. We continue to serve the people of Dudley and work with the community to improve the quality of life for everyone  I thank the men and women from my department for their continued dedicated service to the Town during these trying times. Thanks also go out to the many Police Officers, Fire and Emergency Services members, public works, health care, government officials, and all other “essential” personnel for their continued hard work and service.  We all hope for a quick end to this pandemic and greatly appreciate the support we receive from our community.  
Thanks again for your questions and comments.  Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St., Dudley, Ma. 01571 or email at [email protected]  Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen.