Statistics show Dublin police officers are more likely to come across marijuana or hashish than heroin, but the opiate abuse documented throughout Ohio is manifesting in Dublin as the motivation behind some property crime.

Statistics show Dublin police officers are more likely to come across marijuana or hashish than heroin, but the opiate abuse documented throughout Ohio is manifesting in Dublin as the motivation behind some property crime.

This is the first year Dublin police officers have begun to ask suspects connected to property crimes if their actions are related to drug activity.

Officers have arrested 293 people for criminal activity this year, not including curfew or OVI arrests, and 143, or 49 percent, admitted to being involved in drug-related activity, said Police Chief Heinz von Eckartsberg.

"We've seen heroin become more involved with our crime, definitely, over the last five or six years," he said.

Dublin police developed a community impact unit in 2014, von Eckartsberg said, after officers noticed property crimes were committed in clusters or specific areas by the same people.

"We knew that (heroin) would be a part of it," he said.

The unit includes a sergeant, three criminal investigators and four traffic enforcement officers.

The unit works closely with other agencies, and sometimes arrests are made through the Delaware County Drug Task Force.

Heroin's role in local property crime could be a sign the city is feeling the effects of opiate abuse that has been documented across the state.

Statistics show heroin and other opiates are resulting in fatalities in Ohio.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, of the unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2015, 1,424 were related to heroin, up from 1,196 in 2014.

Nearly 85 percent of drug overdoses last year involved an opioid, such as heroin, fentanyl or prescription medications, up from 80 percent in 2014.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that 2,744 Ohioans died from drug overdoses in 2014, making Ohio the state with the second-highest number of overdose deaths, following California.

That year Ohio joined West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire and Kentucky as one of the five states with the highest rates of drug overdose deaths.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said opiate addiction is just as likely to be in an affluent suburb as an inner city.

Addicts who have to feed daily habits commit a significant amount of crimes in counties throughout the state, he said.

Chief Deputy Rick Minerd of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office said property crime is historically driven by drug addiction.

Those addicted to heroin are mostly nonviolent, wanting to make money quickly to facilitate their habit.

That habit is fueled by physical symptoms.

The pain and discomfort associated with heroin addiction is so severe people will go "to the ends of the earth" to secure opiates such as heroin, fentanyl or prescription medications, Minerd said.

Addiction to prescription opiates can also be expensive.

For example, Vicodin and similar medications are typically more expensive on the street than heroin, Minerd said.

Fentanyl, mass produced in Mexico and smuggled into the U.S., also presents a challenge, Minerd said.

The drug also is in China, and people can order small doses over the internet.

"The end zone is constantly moving," he said.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related unintentional drug overdoses increased from 503 in 2014 to 1,155 in 2015.

In Union County, a majority of theft cases related to drug addiction involve heroin and sometimes methamphetamine, too, said Lt. Mike Justice with the Union County Sheriff's Office.

A mix of residents and non-residents are caught by officers using opiates including heroin and pills, Justice said.

Officers and deputies are also seeing more methamphetamine now, since those taking vivitrol to address an opiate addiction switch to meth to get high.

Addiction in Dublin

While marijuana, hash and alcohol are the drugs von Eckartsberg said police most often come across in Dublin, officers are still taking precautionary measures to deal with the opiate abuse that is prevalent across Ohio.

After the Ohio Attorney General's office sent out a warning about the dangers of officers field testing fentanyl, Dublin changed its policy, von Eckartsberg said.

Dublin officers no longer field test drugs now, because even small amounts of fentanyl can be dangerous.

Officers aren't able to break down drug arrests by type, but von Eckartsberg said officers have filed 197 drug charges through the end of September.

That doesn't include charges filed through direct indictment or through work with the Delaware County Drug Task Force.

Use of Narcan

Dublin Police used naloxone for the first time Oct. 18, said Lindsay Weisanauer, a senior public information officer for the city of Dublin. The drug couteracts opiate drug overdose when administered quickly after the overdose has occurred.

Washington Township paramedics delivered 35 doses of naloxone to 26 patients from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, said Sara Ott, Washington Township administrator.

Naloxone use doesn't directly correlate to possible heroin use, Ott said, because it can be administered when paramedics suspect a patient is experiencing any kind of opiate overdose or when a patient is unconscious for an unknown reason.