Wausau Police: Drug addiction to blame for crime spike - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wausau Police: Drug addiction to blame for crime spike

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

A Wausau Police lieutenant says the number of property crimes jumped last month, and he says many of those crimes were motivated by drug addition.

He says 55 car break-ins were reported in Wausau in September. That is more than triple the normal average of 15. Home burglaries rose to 35, which is almost double what Wausau Police normally see each month.

If you want to sell something at Pawn America in Schofield, you have to sign a contract saying you own the property. But a manager at the store says thieves still stop by to cash in on stolen goods.

A Wausau Police lieutenant says there is no pattern to recent property crimes.

"The vehicle break-ins are spread across the entire city," said Lt. Matthew Barnes.

But many of the cases have a few things in common

"If the vehicle is unlocked, that makes it very easy. They simply open the car door and take whatever they want," said Barnes.

The most popular stolen items, electronics, often go to pawn shops.

"Well there is really no way to prevent it, because you can't always tell if it's a stolen item." said Matt Hendrickson, manager of Pawn America in Schofield.

But managers at Pawn America say they avoid buying stolen goods from thieves.

"Certain giveaways like how the person is presenting themselves, if they are constantly looking around or wearing sunglasses, the hat way pulled down," said Hendrickson.

Pawn America says less than one half of one percent of their purchases are stolen goods.

They work with police to get those items back to their owners. Pawn hops are using websites like

www.leadsonline.com to help police find stolen goods. Pawn America uploads a list of all the things they bought throughout the day and then police can check those descriptions with reports of stolen goods.

Police can then confiscate stolen goods from pawn shops.

Lt. Barnes thinks he knows what's motivating many of the criminals - drug addiction.

"You know a heroin addict needs to have heroin every day, and when they don't have it they are willing to do just about whatever it takes in order to get that drug," said Barnes.

Police are hoping recent drug prevention programs will be one tool to help combat this spiraling issue.

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