Meth Use Spawns Property Crimes

By  | 

Meth users are not only breaking the law by taking the drug, now investigators are tying more users to burglaries and identity theft.
The jails and case loads in counties across the Chippewa Valley are filling up with meth-related crimes and criminals.
So while Chippewa County is watching its numbers rise, Barron County has had to take a tough stance to reduce them.

One of the biggest Barron County problems this week is the snow, but when you talk crime numbers meth has the majority.

"Definitely a correlation between meth users and property crimes," says
Barron County Sheriff Tom Richie says the bulk of the inmates have ties to meth and the crimes spread beyond the chemical.

"Property crime rate was out of line a few years ago, but with aggressive enforcement we've cut it down and a lot of large property crime rings have been taken down," Richie says.

Barron County has cut the property crime rate by more than half, but it ranks second in the state for the amount of meth cases sent to the crime lab since 2003. St. Croix County has the highest number with 231 cases.
More and more criminals are being booked into the Chippewa County jail for meth related crimes.
Aside from the cooking, selling and using, Captain Eugene Gutsch says burglaries, check theft and identity theft are becoming a part of the meth world. At the department meth use and those property crimes are making up 65% of the caseload.

"I think you seeing frustration from law enforcement and the citizen who was a victim of these types of crimes," Gutsch says.

He adds while people need to protect themselves, they can also help fight this kind of crime by supporting law enforcement.

"it's a matter of everyone working together," says Gutsch.
Members of law enforcement and the court system are working together on the Methamphetamine Strategies Committee, the group tackles all aspects of the meth problem.