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Drug addicts driving spike in robberies
"That has really shaken us. We've been here almost 50 years and nothing like this has ever happened," said Verkos, who is co-owner of the 414 Chestnut St. salon where a "nice looking" man came in off the street and held up her co-owner and a customer sitting under the hair dryer.
"There is no question there has been an increase. The frequency has increased and we are certainly becoming concerned about the level of violence shown in these crimes," Lt. Maureen Tessier said Friday, referring to the rise in armed robberies in which firearms, knives or other weapons are used.
Heroin has emerged as the low-cost alternative for people who developed a dependency on Oxycontin, Percocet or other pain killers, but no longer can get prescriptions for them, Tessier said.
Police use a variety of tactics to reduce robberies, ranging from crime prevention programs to educate the public, to analyses of crime data that reveal patterns of where and when robberies occurred, which can also help predict where future ones will happen.
"We're making significant arrests with these crimes, but the rate of them occurring is still pretty high, which tells us there are a large number of people out there committing (them)," she said.
Stay focused and alert when in public, that includes putting away the cell phone, she said. Thieves, she said, prey on those who look like easy targets.
Stay in well-lit, well-populated places, be aware of what's going on around you, have your keys ready when you walk to your car and trust your instincts, she said.
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