Police say they have seen a dramatic increase in heroin use in the past six months and fear it could lead to a rise in burglaries this winter.
Officers traditionally see a spike in home burglaries and thefts during the holiday season and drug users remain the most common culprits.
So far, police have yet to make any significant arrests of drug dealers and a recent search of a home turned up drug paraphernalia, but few drugs, said Police Chief Don Engler.
Officers have caught several heroin users, two nearly on their deathbeds.
Several weeks ago, firefighters were called to two different homes for men who had overdosed on the drug.
The unrelated incidents are the latest heroin-related calls on a long list of arrests stretching back to June.
“We are seeing a tremendous increase in usage in the community,” Engler said.
Heroin use is even starting to keep pace with methamphetamine and prescription drug use, until recently the most commonly abused drugs in Rim Country.
“I think we have more heroin in the community now than we did even in back in the mid 80s,” Engler said. “What is concerning to me is that the people that become so dependent on heroin, we will see very similarly to what we see with our meth users, they’ll start resorting to burglaries and thefts to support the drug habit.”
Engler believes a number of users are turning to heroin because it is becoming too expensive to sustain a prescription drug habit.
A hit of heroin goes for as little as $10, he says.
The two men that nearly died from the drug were saved thanks to emergency responders and friends, who started CPR, Engler said.
“If there hadn’t been people there they most likely would have been fatal calls,” he said.
He said officers have no evidence the two men knew one another.
In one call, at an apartment on West Main Street, a man found his roommate unconscious.
Once rare, the recent cases reflect the “considerable” use of heroin officers are seeing, Engler said, mostly among people in their late teens to mid-20s.
Engler believes the drug, a brown heroin, is being smuggled in from Mexico and distributed out of the Valley.
Anyone with information on the sale or use of the drug is asked to call the PPD at (928) HOT-TIPS.