Cheap heroin fueling Arlington crime sprees

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 16, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 16 at 5:59 PM

Heroin has hit an astounding low on the streets of Western Washington.

“It’s cheaper than beer,” said Det. Jonathan Ventura of the Arlington Police Department. ”People can get high for 10 bucks.”

Arlington is in the grips of a crime spree brought on by homeless heroin addicts roaming neighborhoods and parking lots.

“If they can get just $30 it’ll keep them high for a few days,” said Ventura. 

The latest incident came Sunday night when a man robbed a Subway after saying he had a gun.

“The need to feed the addiction is stronger than their fear of consequences,” said the detective. “They’ll rob someone without even covering up their face.”

Police say just a few years ago they could count the number of troublemaking addicts in town on one hand. Now, they have more than 100 who are known to them and are actively involved in crime.

At the Hair Masters Salon two doors down from the Subway that was robbed, stylist Katie McEldowney doesn’t wonder if she’ll be a crime target, but when.

“We’ve had people knocking at out back doors to see if anyone is inside. They harass my co-workers for money. It's just an everyday thing. Nobody bats an eye anymore,” she said.

Police also point to the problem of panhandlers who often use donations by well meaning people to feed their drug habits instead of their stomachs.

“People need to realize they’re not helping these people,” said Det. Ventura. “That money is better spent at a shelter or food kitchen.”

Police are working with businesses to ban addicts convicted of shoplifting, and then reporting them if they return. Police are also planning a public meeting on October 29 to discuss other things people can do to keep from becoming a victim of crime.

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