Police Say Rise In Franklin Co. Car Break-Ins Connected To Heroin Epidemic

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Police in central Ohio are seeing a trend in property crimes connected to the heroin epidemic.  Authorities are urging all car owners to keep their vehicles locked and keep valuables out of their car.

On Tuesday morning, an alert went out to one community after several people found their car windows smashed after a string of car break-ins in western Franklin County.  It has some people learning that drug addicts want money for their fix.

Most nights at The Residences at Breckenridge apartments are pretty quiet, according to its residents.

“I was surprised it's in this community because I've always felt really safe here,” resident Jill Coile said.

Tucked away behind the Westpointe Plaza near Hilliard, Coile woke up Tuesday morning to an alert. Her complex sent out an email warning residents about a rash of car break-ins on the property.

"It just kind of creeped me out to think there may be some criminals lurking about while I'm walking my dog, so I'm going to keep my eyes open more,” Coile said.

Police say these criminals will take anything that's left sitting in plain sight, like loose change or a phone charger, and there’s a reason why.

“All the police departments in the area, we work very closely together and we, we are all seeing the same thing,” Dublin Police Chief Heinz von Eckartsberg said.

The criminal connection Eckartsberg  says is heroin.

Heroin at Home: An Ohio Epidemic

"Many of the people that we arrest for property crimes, breaking into cars and burglaries that type of crime have a link to heroin addiction,” Eckartsberg said.

Dublin Police say it’s a trend they’ve noticed over the last few years nationally, and in central Ohio.

The city even hosted a town hall meeting in December to talk with the community about the heroin epidemic, that’s turned addicts into criminals.

"Time and again I can almost guarantee you if we arrest a group of people or a single individual who's doing a lot of these types of crimes it's because they're fueling their drug habit,” Eckartsberg said.

Eckartsberg says extra resources are put in places where police are seeing the criminal trend.

The Residences at Breckenridge Apartments says Columbus Police will increase patrols in the apartment community.

Neighbors to Coile say they’ll play it safe and keep their cars empty.

I'm aware that it happens in this area, but I don't really keep anything of value in my car anyway,” resident Daniel Kopechek said.

Hilliard and Columbus Police Departments are also seeing this trend.

The investigation into the car break-ins at The Residences at Breckenridge is still under investigation.