Thieves trade steaks for drugs

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 @ 5:26 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 @ 5:26 PM

Using stolen merchandise to fund a drug habit is nothing new, but using steaks to buy drugs is a fad that’s quickly catching on in Clark County, according to the sheriff’s office.

Steaks are targeted as a high-dollar item used to barter for drugs, said. Lt. Chris Clark with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

“What they’ll do is they’ll take $50, $60, $100 worth of steaks and shoplift them, and then take those out and trade them for drugs,” he said.

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Heroin use is on the rise in Clark County, Clark said.

The reason the meat is a hot item to get heroin and other drugs is because the food can’t be traced. Thieves smuggle them out in their pants and jackets, Clark said.

Drug dealers will request steaks for parties or a personal meal. Fifty-dollars in steaks will supply a user with $10 worth of drugs, the sheriff’s office said.

The food, along with other merchandise stolen in exchange for drugs, can also be fenced. Clark said digestion takes care of the rest.

“How do you dispute someone who’s holding a T-bone?” he said. “Once they grill that steak up and eat it, the evidence is gone.”

On Tuesday, a woman was arrested for allegedly trying to steal about $100 worth of ribeye steaks from the Kroger on Derr Road. The woman has a history of theft, robbery and drug possession dating back to 1993, but it was not clear if this arrest was linked to drugs.

Kroger customers said they were shocked people were finding drug currency in the meat department.

“It’s sad that you’ve got to stoop that low to go in the grocery and steal a steak that’s only $5,” said Diane Applin of Springfield. “But (drug addicts) are really smart people. They just sit all day and dream of ways to steal for money.”

Store surveillance and loss prevention help fight the thefts. Clark said most stores know items like steaks are a hot right now. Alcohol, clothing and hygiene products are also popular.

If you witness a theft in progress, Clark said you shouldn’t address the person. Contact a store manager or security guard, who in turn can call law enforcement.