Heroin Affects Strongsville in Surprising Way
Trickle-down effect makes city a hotspot for addicts
More significant was the reason they stole it: The young couple needed money to support their heroin habit.
Strongsville doesn't make many arrests for possession of heroin, said Detective Lt. John Janowski -- officers see more marijuana and cocaine on the streets.
But they see the impact of heroin every day.
"We don't arrest a lot of people with heroin," Janowski said. "But a lot of our thieves are heroin addicts."
Police say a shocking number of shoplifters caught at the mall and other Strongsville businesses are addicted to heroin, stealing to support their expensive habit.
It makes sense, Janowski said.
"It's hard to maintain a job and be a heroin addict. You can do marijuana or other drugs and still work," he said.
But the desperation to feed a heroin addiction often drives people to break into houses and cars and -- more often than many people realize -- steal from stores.
Strongsville police handled 440 shoplifting calls in 2010, according to the department's annual report. In 2009, there were 339 shoplifting cases reported.
This city sees more shoplifting cases than most because of the high number of retail stores.
But national and regional experts say heroin use has been on the rise, with Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) reporting heroin seizures up 200 percent and heroin-related deaths up 109 percent in recent years.
But Janowski said he has encountered shoplifting heroin addicts for the 15 years he's been working here.
"Our numbers are skewed because of the mall," Janowski said. "But we've always seen a lot of heroin addicts."