MOUND, Minn. - Police departments in the west metro are alerting residents to a wave of crime spurred on by an alarming trend.
"We're seeing a lot more of our young adults, 18 to 25, using heroin," said Detective Jami Wittke with the Mound Police Department. "These people are from our community and they are stealing from our residents."
Since early 2011, there have been 60 cases in which people, addicted to heroin, were caught stealing items from cars, garages, and homes. It's why city officials in Mound, Orono, and the surrounding area are alerting residents to keep valuables locked up and out of view.
"They will steal electronics, jewelry, tools, basically anything that's worth money on the street," said Det. Wittke. "They're pawning those items for more heroin."
Addiction specialists with Minnesota Teen Challenge say heroin is "highly addictive" and typically has users going to great lengths for their next hit.
"It can cost anywhere from 20 to 300 dollars each day," says Adam Pederson with Teen Challenge. "It's the number one hardest drug to get off of."
Will from St. Paul knows the feeling. He started abusing painkiller medications which led to using heroin.
"I would steal from my friends, family, and relatives," he admits. "The money goes really fast and next thing you know you're out looking for more money for another fix."
Will is currently receiving treatment at Minnesota Teen Challenge and is 13 months sober.
Leaders at Teen Challenge say since 2002, they've seen a measurable increase in those addicted to heroin.
"When you see the addictive nature it has, you understand why they're doing what they're doing," says Pederson.
The West Metro Drug Task Force is actively investigating where the users are receiving the heroin.