COVINGTON, Ky. — A recent spike in petty crimes and thefts in the Covington areas could be tied to an increase in meth use in the region, according to Covington police chief Rob Nader.
Nader said folks in the Covington area can be a little carefree with their belongings, leaving their cars unlocked as they pop in and out of businesses in the downtown district. This has left them vulnerable to thieves who then pop in and out of those vehicles, often taking things they found inside.
Covington Police have seen a recent spike in thefts from cars, with an increase in calls happening over the past week in areas like south and west Covington. Nader said he thinks it's possible that meth plays a part in the thefts, as addicts look for easy money or things to steal in order to get their hands on the drug.
"When we had crack cocaine, late 90s, early 2000s, if it wasn't bolted down, it was stolen," said Nader. "And so we saw a lot of car break-ins, a lot of car thefts. We saw a lot of burglaries. We're starting to see the same types of crimes again."
Meth is cheaper and more widely available than opioids or other drugs, and the ripple effects often create waves of petty crimes in communities where the drug becomes prevalent.
"We are definitely keeping all car doors locked," said Tiffany Barnes, a victim of the thefts. "We had to block my dad's truck in because they have his set of keys. So in order to keep his truck safe, we have to drive everywhere now."
The thieves stole money and jewelry out of Barnes' SUV, then took a watch and the spare keys from her dad's pickup. The thieves also took her daughter's necklace and a mason jar with $75 in spare change the mother of three was saving for a rainy day.
"When times are hard with kids, then you reach out to what you have left and that upset me, because that could go to diapers," she said.
Five years ago, police arrested just 12 people in the Covington area for possession of meth. Last year, they saw a 240 percent increase in possession arrests.