Pubdate: Mon, 01 Aug 2005
Source: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Copyright: 2005 Statesman Journal
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Neighbors Should Keep Watch For And Report Signs Of Meth In Houses

Salvaging just one abandoned meth house takes extraordinary effort and 
expense. Just ask the Salem Association of Realtors, which bought such a 
house in Keizer and has begun renovating it as a community-service project:

Buy property for $75,000 at a foreclosure auction, without an inspection, 
because the remains of a methamphetamine lab left it too toxic to enter -- 

Hire professional cleaners for $10,000 to decontaminate the place -- check.

Round up dozens of volunteers to repair the house and yard, using donated 
supplies and services where possible -- check.

When the project is finished in about a month, that will be, let's see, one 
down. And dozens -- hundreds? -- more to go in the Mid-Valley.

How on Earth can our communities keep up with this? What do families and 
landlords do the day after meth makers are busted if no friendly civic 
group steps up to help?

They absorb the hit from their own pockets. Maybe they get help from somewhere.

Or they walk away, leaving a derelict house. And one decent neighborhood, 
where people have poured their hearts and their savings into their homes, 
takes a turn for the worse.

That could have happened in the case of the Keizer house, at 5198 Eighth 
Ave. NE. But neighbors started mowing the lawn and removing trash to keep 
it looking lived-in -- and as unlike a drug house as possible.

That kind of initiative shows why local police agencies focus on neighbors 
as a key part of the fight against meth. They train people to notice the 
signs of a drug lab -- among them, lots of strangers coming and going at 
odd hours and paranoid, secretive residents.

There has been a lot of publicity lately about making it harder to get cold 
medications, such as Sudafed, which go into making meth. However, meth 
requires a long list of other very specific ingredients and pieces of 
equipment, nearly all available at a big-box store. Shopping carts or trash 
piled high with them should set off warning lights for alert Oregonians.

Preventing meth labs from getting started would be better than shutting 
them down, of course. Police urge landlords to introduce themselves to 
neighbors and ask to be notified of any suspicious activity. Landlords 
should get prospective tenants' permission to check their criminal history 
and to make surprise visits. These legal steps might scare off would-be 

Meth doesn't just poison bodies; it turns houses, sheds and motel rooms 
into toxic-waste dumps. Kudos to the Salem Association of Realtors for 
working to turn one around.

Which civic or business group will be next? There are plenty more meth 
houses out there for the choosing.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom