Drugs the target of several animal clinic break-ins

Ketamine has several street names, including K, Vitamin K and Special K
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Detectives in two Indiana counties are investigating after several break-ins at animal clinics or barns.

There have been five cases in Johnson and Morgan counties since November. Investigators believe the burglars are searching for drugs, specifically an anesthetic called Ketamine often used for horses.

"On the street it goes by a number of names: ‘K,’ ‘Special K,’ ‘Vitamin K'," said Scott Watson, licensed clinical addiction counselor with Heartland Intervention.

The drug was stolen in two separate break-ins at Midwest Equine & Veterinary Hospital near Trafalgar. Horse & Hound Veterinary Clinic in Mooresville was also hit twice, though the thieves walked away empty-handed.

While the anesthetic is quite useful for veterinarians, Watson said it can be extremely dangerous for humans

"The reality is, it's a horse tranquilizer. It's not the typical drug of abuse. However, when your addiction gets to that point, people will do whatever it is they have to do," said Watson.

As a controlled substance, veterinarians are required to store the drug in a locked and secure space. However, that has not stopped thieves from breaking in.

Though the burglars did not get away with any drugs from Horse & Hound, they did cause property damage, shattering the front glass door. A white woman in her 50's with blonde hair was seen leaving the scene in a light colored GMC Yukon.

"Since these people who want to use Ketamine in an illegal way know that veterinarians have it, veterinarians have been broken into in the past," said Dr. Sandra Norman with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health. 

A Morgan County pig barn was also targeted this month. Thieves got away with three bottles of animal medication.

Watson says the thieves are not always breaking in to use the drugs themselves. Instead, they may sell them on the streets and use the money to buy heroin.

"For a long period of time we saw that pharmacies were being robbed, then we saw nursing facilities and hospitals being robbed. Now what we're seeing is that veterinarians, especially those in rural areas, tend to be a target," Watson explained.

Ketamine can be used as an anesthetic in humans. However, overdosing on the drug can slow breathing and even cause death.

"Humans don't typically know how to dose Ketamine and therefore, there's a big risk of overdose and accidental death," Watson said.

Deputies have not yet made any arrests in these cases.