Burglars bash KC pharmacy to steal codeine cough syrup

Two burglars backed a van into a Kansas City pharmacy early Thursday and stole 20 bottles of prescription-strength codeine cough syrup.

The smash-and-grab heist occurred about 2:45 a.m. at Spalitto’s Pharmacy, 3801 Independence Ave. Video surveillance showed two men ramming a stolen van against a door to get inside, where they grabbed the cough syrup bottles and fled. They left the van behind.

Police aren’t sure why the burglars stole the cough syrup, but it is abused by some people to get high. The syrup can be mixed with Sprite or other beverages and a piece of hard candy to create a drink called “Purple Drank,” “Lean” or “Sizzurp.”

Codeine, an opiate in the same drug family as heroin and morphine, can be highly addictive, experts say, especially when people use much more than the recommended dosage for the syrup drinks.

The opiate produces a feeling of euphoria and causes motor skill impairment that makes users move slowly or lean over, according to a 2006 USA Today article about an increase in cough syrup abuse. The article said the concoction was made popular in the late 1990s by a Houston disc jockey who later died from a codeine overdose.