The Mifflin Township Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration are giving the public an opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by getting rid of potentially dangerous, expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

Local residents can take pills for disposal to the parking lot of the Mifflin Township Police Department, directly behind the fire station at 2459 Agler Road between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29.

"The event is a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of prescription drugs," said William Price, Mifflin Township police chief. "In general, law enforcement is seeing an increase in property crimes such as car theft, burglary, theft, shoplifting and vandalism, all driven by opiate abuse. This is an opportunity to stem the flow of illegal prescriptions into the community."

The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

The department can't accept liquids, needles, sharps or patches. This location is for pills only.

Other items can be dropped at the following Kroger locations, also between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. April 29.

* 300 S. Hamilton Road, Gahanna.

* 3637 S. High St., Columbus.

* 2090 Crown Plaza Drive, Columbus.

* 6095 Gender Road, Canal Winchester.

* 55 West Schrock Road, Westerville.

* 1375 Chambers Road, Columbus.

* 4656 Cemetery Road, Hilliard.

Mifflin Township offered the program last fall and collected 11 pounds of opiates from the unincorporated area, said Melissa Rapp, public information officer.

Last October, Americans turned in 366 tons (more than 730,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,200 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,000 of its state and local law enforcement partners, according to Chuck Rosenberg, acting DEA administrator.

Overall, in its 12 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in more than 7.1 million pounds -- more than 3,500 tons -- of pills.

Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse, according to Rosenberg.

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.

Rosenberg said studies show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

Residents who can't participate in the next Prescription Take Back Day can deliver old medicines, typically pills only, to several law enforcement agencies in central Ohio, including the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

The drop box for the sheriff's office is in the front lobby of 373 S. High St., Columbus.

The box is for pills only and is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla