09-22-2004

Meth Lab Next Door? Here’s How To Tell

By Laurie Hahn, Times-Union Staff Writer

How can you tell if there’s a meth lab in your neighborhood?

According to the Kosciusko County Drug Task Force, watch for several of the following conditions:

¥ Unusual, strong odors (such as cat urine, fingernail polish remover, ammonia, ether, even a smell like a sweaty gym bag).

¥ Unusual number of chemical containers near the property (antifreeze containers, lantern fuel cans, drain cleaner, STP/Heet containers, red chemically stained coffee filters, duct tape, clear glass containers, lithium batteries, packaging from cold medications or diet aids).

¥ The presence of bottles or jugs used extensively for secondary purposes (milk jugs and screw top pop bottles full of unknown liquids) or numerous grill propane tanks.

¥ Windows blacked out or covered by aluminum foil, sheets, blankets, etc.

¥ Secretive and protective area surrounding a residence (video cameras, elaborate alarm systems, reinforced doors, electrified fencing).

¥ In rural areas, a smaller trailer or outbuilding away from the main house with a generator running in the middle of the night.

¥ Unusual amount of exhaust fan noise, ballast noise or window sweating or electrical cords running to a basement or outbuilding.

¥ Boxes, bags or suitcases often carried in or out of the residence.

¥ Little or no traffic during the day, but lots of traffic at late hours; different vehicles arriving at the house and staying for only short periods of time – many of the vehicles may be delivery trucks or vans with out-of-state plates.

¥ Regular visits by people to tenants who appear to be significantly impoverished, or who appear to be acquaintances rather than friends.

¥ A dramatic drop-off of suspected activity within minutes after police have been called, but before they arrive (may indicate usage of a scanner, monitoring police bands).

¥ Little or no mail, furniture, visible trash and no newspaper delivery.

¥ Regular car switching especially at odd hours – the people arrive in one car, leave it at the premises and use keys already in their possession to get into another car and drive off.

¥ Unusual activity in wooded areas. People arrive and leave on foot or using four-wheel vehicles and drive at night with headlights off.

The Drug Task Force members said authorities have found meth labs in closets, vans, motel rooms, car trunks and suitcases.

If you suspect a meth lab in your neighborhood, contact the Drug Task Force at 574-372-2494 or 574-267-5667.




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