Police see surge in shoplifting due to opioid crisis

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Police throughout the Midstate say the opioid crisis is leading to another major issue. Users are shoplifting and reselling stolen items to buy more drugs. This can affect your bottom line because many prices go up in stores.

Hampden Township Police Chief Steven Junkin and his detectives are dealing with the retail theft problem.

“Most of the retails that we encounter, the people are going to have an underlying drug addiction,” Hampden Township Police Detective Robert Higgins said.

“They’re stealing from one place and moving to another place to steal,” Lower Allen Township Police Capt. Leon Crone said.

Crone says his department is tackling the same problem.

“In one of our larger box stores in the township, we’ve had over the last two years more than 100 retail thefts each year there, and better than a dozen of those, people have had heroin on them or in their cars,” Crone said.

“There’s an overabundance of people that are addicted to heroin and trying to support that habit. When you’re talking an $80 to $120 a day habit, they’re not going to be able to support that through a job,” Higgins said. “They’re going to have to get that money somewhere else.”

This is a crisis local police don’t think will go away anytime soon. Many of the departments try to refer drug users to rehab.

“Until there’s something done to help people with this addiction, it’s just going to continue to grow I think,” Higgins said.

“The hope is that at some point, this will peak and start to trail off once we get this under control,” Crone said. “I don’t see that happening soon. It’s an uphill battle right now, and I don’t think we’ve seen the crest yet.”

Police in Dauphin, Lancaster, and York Counties also tell ABC27 News this is a major issue for them. One of the ways they’re tackling the problem is to have good relationships with loss prevention detectives at stores.

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