Meth Contributes to Crime Growth, Just Not as Expected
> 7/11/2006 9:45:36 AM

A while back we linked to an AP story that focused on the link between methamphetamine abuse and identity theft. Today, the New York Times takes another look at this growing trend.

The states with the highest levels of identity theft also continue to struggle with methamphetamine. Arizona, Nevada, California, Texas and Colorado top the list. Phoenix ranked as the city with the largest problem, and the latest Federal Trade Commission report found Las Vegas; Riverside, CA; Dallas and Los Angeles to not lag that far behind. These are areas that have been hit hard by meth, and continue to struggle to come up with strategies to combat the problem.

The article also makes a valid point that while the stats bear out a strong correlation between identity theft and meth abuse, many law enforcement officials feel that the numbers may be skewed because often those addicted to drugs are the easiest to catch. Still a large proportion of identity thieves are going free.

But outside of the trend of identity theft, which enforcement officers have been catching up to, albeit slowly, the article mentions other crime jumps that have accompanied meth's spread. It is almost a toss-off comment in the NYT piece, but the following should raise many eyebrows:

In a survey of 500 county sheriffs, 27 percent said methamphetamine had contributed to a rise in identity theft in their areas. Even more 62 percent and 68 percent, respectively noted that it contributed to increases in domestic abuse or robberies and burglaries.

Obviously, increases in these types of crimes aren't as sexy as a hot topic like identity theft, but they should signal more alarms about the dangers of meth and its migration across the U.S. While some will continue to try to undermine the fight against methamphetamine, we need to stay vigilant, especially with often unexpected crime spikes that may indicate an increasing drug presence. The battle against methamphetamine is by no means lost, and as law enforcement and other support network workers learn more about the relationship between criminality and meth abuse, they will be better prepared to win.

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