DEATH * BY * METH

This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Surge in burglaries tied to meth use (Minnesota)

http://www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/news/local/13793660.htm

Sheriffs say stolen items fenced to pay for drugs

BY JOHN BREWER
Pioneer Press

A recent rash of burglaries in Polk County may be tied to the region's continuing methamphetamine problem.

Two full-time investigators are running down leads on 30 burglaries that have occurred over six weeks, said Sheriff Tim Moore. Sparsely populated Sterling Township has been hardest hit, with 14 burglaries in a two-week span, he said.
Investigators believe meth addicts are stealing to try to raise money to buy the drug.

"They have to fuel their need, and their need is for the high," Moore said.
Meth has long been blamed for crimes in western Wisconsin, but Moore said his department is scrambling to respond to the surge in burglaries.
"My guys are pulling their hair out," he said. Recent investigations have led them to Chisago County, Minn., and nearby Wisconsin counties.

Moore said the increase could be due to three burglary rings operating, coincidentally, at the same time. At least four people have been arrested in the past two weeks on suspicion of possessing meth or paraphernalia. Moore said it is unclear how many suspects could be tied to the burglaries, but some admitted stealing to buy drugs in the Twin Cities.

"A couple of the people that we've interviewed recently have said they'd hit a house, take what they can of value and trade it across the river for meth or marijuana," Moore said, noting the trend is more prominent for meth than marijuana.
Mike Meyer, a St. Paul police narcotics agent, said Wisconsin residents regularly sell stolen items in the Twin Cities, then return home with meth.

"We'll see people from Wisconsin come here with stolen merchandise and pawn it here," he said.

Although there is a system in Minnesota for tracking stolen items taken to pawn shops, Meyer said it's difficult to spot goods stolen in Wisconsin and sold at Twin Cities pawn shops.

People addicted to meth have an obvious need for cash.
It costs $150 to $250 for a typical 1½-gram bag of meth, known as a teener, which can last a day or two. An eight ball, or 3½ grams, runs from $300 to $350, according to St. Paul and Polk County law enforcement calculations.

Although Polk County is dealing with a spike in burglary cases, the problem isn't isolated to that county.

St. Croix County Sheriff Dennis Hillstead estimates meth users commit 80 percent of burglaries in his county. "Meth is our primary problem," he said. "It drives everything else — burglary, theft, domestic, emergency detentions, traffic crashes."
Hillstead estimates about 60 percent of county jail inmates face meth-related charges. And although two St. Croix County investigators are assigned full time to meth cases, they still can't keep up, he said.

"What's happened is we've had to look at the resources that we have and how we respond to some routine types of activities," Hillstead said. "Sometimes the lesser property damage complaints — instead of sending out a deputy — we may take the case over the phone. Accident reports we take over the phone. It's kind of overwhelming right now."

The same goes for Pierce County, said Sheriff Everett Muhlhausen. "A lot of the activity is because of meth use, getting involved in burglaries and thefts," he said. "They need money to buy their drugs."

The number of meth cases in Wisconsin has skyrocketed since 2000. That year, the state's three crime labs handled 101 meth cases. In 2005, 726 cases came in from across the state.

In 2005, Polk County, with less than 1 percent of the population of Wisconsin, led in meth cases investigated by state crime labs, with 86 cases. Barron and St. Croix followed with 84. Pierce County had 30 cases, ranking it seventh.

The rising number of cases is due to an increase in meth use as well as an increase in law enforcement efforts, said Kelly Kennedy, spokesman for state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager.

"We're pretty sure that we have enough information from local law enforcement that they're seeing an increase in property crimes in the pursuit of meth," Kennedy said.
Moore said the surge in burglaries might make the public more aware of the regional meth problem.

"I don't think a victim is ever made whole from a burglary," he said. "It is personal, because someone's been in your house. … I think maybe the public gets tired of hearing about methamphetamine, but the problem is … not going away."

John Brewer can be reached at 1-800-950-9080, ext. 2093, or at jbrewer@pioneerpress.com.

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