Thursday, January 17, 2002

Heroin moving into Cape

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth police are beginning to notice an increase in drug-related crime in town.

Several burglaries in the Scott Dyer Road area on one night in particular, Jan. 6, are believed to be related to each other and to a small group of users of heroin and other drugs in Cape Elizabeth.

“The drug (heroin) is becoming more prevalent,” said Cape Police Chief Neil Williams, adding that it is cheaper than cocaine and is easier to get than OxyContin.

On Jan. 6, “a crew of two to four people,” according to Detective Paul Fenton, entered unlocked cars and sheds on Scott Dyer and Brentwood roads, and stole “mostly small items.” Some of the property recovered from the thieves includes a set of golf clubs, a car stereo, a firearm and a bicycle.

“They grabbed what they could get their hands on,” Fenton said.

He said he has identified some suspects and has information that indicates they were planning to sell the items for drug money, or trade them directly for drugs.

“I’m pretty sure who they are,” Fenton said. He said he knows of about a half-dozen people in town who use drugs such as heroin, but said he assumes there are more that he doesn’t know about. He added that his count doesn’t include their friends.

The people, whom Fenton and Williams declined to identify, are in their late teens but are not in school, they said.

Fenton recommended that people lock their cars and their homes, and asked residents to call police if they see people walking around on the streets very late at night. And check out any nighttime noises when you hear them, rather than waiting until morning.

“If they hear anything, give us a call,” Fenton said.

He said they did get a tip Jan. 6, and almost caught the thieves, but arrived a little bit too late. He said some people don’t call the police for fear of “bugging” them, but Fenton stressed they want people to call.

“It’s our job,” he said. “It’s not bugging us.”

Officer Paul Gaspar, who is the department liaison to the schools and other community groups, said he is seeing more drug use in the community, but not much in the schools. He said he also knows of one recent Cape High School graduate who is on methadone, a drug used to treat heroin addiction.

But teenage users of hard drugs are certainly possible in Cape Elizabeth, he said, just as it is in other towns.

“Do I think it’s outside the realm of possibility? No,” Gaspar said.

He said parents should talk to their kids and trust their gut feelings if something doesn’t feel right. Parents should look for signs of drug use in their teenagers, he said, including smoking and drinking, a change in demeanor, depression, being easily angered, changing the peer group, having friends they don’t want to bring home, paleness of skin and loss or gain of weight.

He said Day One is a community-based resource for parents and teens dealing with drug and other issues, and suggested the Fort Williams office as a good place to ask for help.