Far from a victimless crime, meth abuse takes a toll on central Nebraska. Hastings police say you could be a victim and not even know it, as they sort through one of the biggest treasure troves of stolen goods they've ever seen.
Hastings police served eight search warrants in and around the city Monday. They recovered so much stuff, they've spread it out across tables in the police garage.
Police joke they could start a pawn shop with more than 300 stolen cameras, tools, rings, and more.
At this point, they've connected about $8,000 dollars worth of stuff with rightful owners, but much remains unclaimed according to Capt. Adam Story.
Looking at the tables, he said, "This property we have here is remaining property that we have not identified to cases so we're asking any citizen that's reported a crime or burglary or not reported, they can contact Hastings Police Department Monday to Friday between 8 and 4."
They have suspects, but have not made any arrests.
Tables line the police garage, but this is no garage sale. Officers say it's evidence of the drug trade. They say all the items were stolen and sold or traded for methamphetamine.
Story said, "This property was either obtained through them stealing it themselves or taking it on trade for drugs."
Chief Larry Thoren said it shows meth abuse is not a victimless crime.
Story said, "With meth and victims of crime, this supports the knowledge there are victims to crime and items get taken to support those drug habits."
Police recovered 362 items. Detectives say most items were taken from homes and cars. Break-ins are often a crime of opportunity, so lock car doors and don't leave items in plain view.
"Criminals take opportunities when they see valuables in a car that's unlocked and take them. But we do have, on occasion, forced entry or just unlocked vehicles where things are taken and same with residences," Story said.
The break-ins appear to have been random and some may have occurred outside Hastings city limits.
Police have tables full of flat screen TVs, cameras, iPods, computers, stereos and other electronics plus tools and jewelry. They ask anyone with missing items to contact police to recover their property.
Police also recovered meth during the search, so there's little doubt this was tied to drugs.