Undercover operation in Mentor targets heroin-related crime

Posted at 4:28 PM, Aug 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-08 19:38:27-04

The heroin epidemic has taken a toll on communities across Northeast Ohio, but police in Mentor have found a new way to target it.

They're working through an undercover operation to squash the crimes associated with heroin, mainly, shoplifting. 

"These groups were coming into our city, targeting our retailers," Officer James Collier told NewsChannel 5's Tara Molina.

Shoplifter after shoplifter has been caught stealing everything from jewelry and electronics, to light bulbs, crab legs, and even baby formula.

"They'll steal anything," he said.

Collier explained almost every case was somehow connected to the heroin epidemic. 

"It's one of the most difficult things, as a society, that we've faced in a long time," he said.

That's why Mentor is facing it head on through the undercover anti-theft operation. It's funded by a grant meant to target the heroin problem in the state. 

Collier told Molina they've made 56 arrests in the past six months. 

"Thirty-eight of those 56 people are drug users," he added.

Undercover officers have also recovered around $8,500 in stolen goods.

"We don't see as many shoplifting incidences," he said. 

Ante Logarusic, spokesman for the City of Mentor, said the undercover operation is part of a progressive city-wide effort to stay on top of the heroin problem.

"It's taken a bite out of crime and a bite out of drug abuse as well," he said.