SEABROOK — About 100 residents, local and state officials met Tuesday night at Seabrook Community Center to discuss crime, drug abuse and the link between the two.
The event, sponsored by the Seabrook Recreation Commission, comes as Seabrook, like many other communities, struggles with the ramifications of drug abuse and the crime it brings with it. A recent rash of home burglaries in Seabrook and surrounding communities, resulting in multiple charges being brought against a number of Seabrook residents, put the topic in the spotlight for weeks.
Police say a primary reason behind these thefts and others is often drug addiction, as addicts steal to buy drugs.
Resident Stefanie Catalano attended, saying with three children, security is always a major concern for her family.
The same was true for neighbors Cheryl Langmaid and Carrie Daley, who brought her seventh-grader, Katelyn, with her to listen to the experts.
"We wanted to know about the problems the town is dealing with," Daley said. "This should be very informative. Crime and drugs, they're all related. I'm curious to see what they say to parents about the typical symptoms of drug use."
Community affairs officer John Mounsey spoke about the benefits of neighborhood watches, whether formal or informal. Mousey said the residents at Staples Mobile Homes Park have the biggest formal neighborhood watch. But Mounsey added even without an organized watch, police urge residents to keep an eye out for any suspicious activities along their neighborhood streets. But he also encouraged people to call if something is not right.
"We'd rather go to the call and find no problem than not get a call at all and have someone lose their property to a burglary," Mounsey said. "Right now our biggest problem is people stealing from cars. Thieves walk up to cars to see if they're locked. If they aren't, they go in and steal anything they can."
Detective Brett Walker, who spent four years on the New Hampshire Attorney General's Drug Task Force, reviewed all types of drugs, from heroin to prescription, the abuse of the latter being the major problem in Seabrook, he said.
Along with the local enforcement officials who came to share their knowledge, there were representatives from the N.H. State Police and County Attorney Jim Reams. N.H. Liquor Commission Enforcement Bureau Chief Eddie Edwards was there to discuss one of the most commonly abused drugs: alcohol.
Interviewed prior to his presentation, Edwards commented on an issue much in the news: Four Loko, a caffeine-enhanced malt liquor with a high alcohol content that's being used by students. Because abuse of the drink has been linked to a least one death, some states have already banned the drink, with Massachusetts currently considering doing the same thing.
Four Loko can't be sold in New Hampshire because it's not on the Liquor Commission's list of approved alcoholic beverage, Edwards said. If the state doesn't list a brand, stores, restaurants and lounges can't sell it, and residents can bring in only a small amount.
"With the high alcohol content — 12 percent — along with the caffeine, New Hampshire doesn't register these drinks as beer, but as liquor," Edwards said of Four Loko and other similar drinks. "Ask the kids who use it; they'll tell you it doesn't give them a regular type of intoxication. Because New Hampshire doesn't sell it, no one can bring in more than three quarts of it."