Ocean County Links Burglary to Heroin Epidemic- Cracks Down on Pawn Shops

In a unique effort to fight the growing heroin epidemic, Ocean County law enforcement has outlined a new strategy- tracking the sale of stolen items. According to an Asbury Park Press report, 10-15% of all burglaries are unsolved, yet law enforcement has long suspected that heroin and opiate addictions fuel many of the theft crimes. According to one local law enforcement authority, these addictions are beyond comprehension for those who do not struggle with them. Furthermore, many who suffer from heroin or opiate addictions make money by “stealing or dealing.”

Cooperating municipalities will adopt two Regional Automated Property Information Database ordinances, establishing “’a database containing pawn shop and scrap metal transactions in approximately 25 jurisdictions in the state,’ according to Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the county Prosecutor’s Office.” The ordinances, which inherently effect scrap metal dealers and pawn brokers, will create more stringent regulations on the purchasing and sale of second-hand materials that are often burgled. As a result, officers will be better situated to track stolen items and, if all goes to plan, discover that the cash garnered for the sale has gone to the purchase of heroin or opium.

These efforts come as Ocean County has been avidly seeking to quell heroin distribution and related offenses. According to Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato, “It’s something that has been virtually unmanageable over the years and something that has become more and more widespread.” Of the new program, Coronato stated, “If a theft takes place in Berkeley and they’re trying to go to a scrap metal place out in Manchester, we’ll be able to track it back.”

Ocean County authorities have done an admirable job in the battle against heroin this year, with slightly less than 50% heroin related deaths than this point last year. The arming of Ocean County Police with Nalaxone, a drug administered to overdose victims, has thwarted many deaths.

Burglary and other theft related charges are serious offenses that are typically tried in Ocean County Superior Court in Toms River. Likewise, heroin related charges are indictable offenses with serious repercussions.

To date, Toms River, Brick, and Jackson lead the county in burglaries to date, with 275, 95, and 70, respectfully.

William Proetta

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.