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Heroin addiction not limited to hurting one’s self

Updated: Friday, March 7 2014, 05:41 PM EST


JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio -- Heroin usage has a ripple effect that is felt by more than just the user and those closest to them. Its effect causes headaches for law enforcement officials not just in trying to track down the dealers, but also in prosecuting the users who need to find a way to feed their habit.

When Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin thumbs through a list of indictments, she notices a number of multiple offenders. But many times, the thefts are a means to an end in feeding addiction.

“Sometimes what you see in these cases is that you have addicts, particularly heroin addicts, it may cost them hundreds of dollars a day,” Hanlin said. “They’ve exhausted their family’s resources, their resources and they then resort to stealing in the community almost anything that’s not nailed down.”

Hanlin said the area has been fortunate enough to avoid the violent crimes that gateway thefts could lead to. Instead, break-ins to cars, homes and many unoccupied structures are the chronic crimes that occur.

“They’re not typical of the types of thefts that you would see,” she said. “They’re almost desperate attempts. For example, stealing brand-new items and then scrapping them for a fraction of the value. That, even to a thief, doesn’t make sense, unless you're trying to get any money that you can.”

Despite the scope of the crimes, it doesn’t make it any easier resolving them. Often times, those family heirlooms are unable to be recovered.

Hanlin said dealers prey on that vulnerability for their customers’ next fix.

“In the latest investigation, we would actually do undercover surveillance and watch as 10 or 12 people at a time would line up to get heroin from these vehicles,” she said.

Heroin addiction not limited to hurting one’s self

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