Sneakers Being Used for Signs of Drug Activity

By Denise Jackson

December 6, 2011 Updated Dec 6, 2011 at 7:31 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Sometimes the signs are not so clear that drugs may be a problem in your community.

Peoria police say there is no set pattern for gathering evidence in drug investigations. But authorities say that one popular piece of footwear has long been associated with drug activity.

Tennis shoes strung up across utility poles may seem humorous or innocent to some people. During our search we found them in four locations the cottage neighborhood off Main Street, about four blocks from a school on Columbia Terrace and in the 1200 block of South Blaine Street. Peoria Police say while in the past it was a sure sign of drug sales, they're not sure that's the case now.

"There's no doubt that at one point there's a good possibility that it was. But we look for other indicators as well, a lot of traffic people going in and out at all hours of the day and night. Short stints in the home, they pull up they run into the house walk into the house and they're gone," said Peoria Police Department spokesman Doug Burgess.

Community Action Agency Director McFarland Bragg did not take any chances after noticing a pair of tennis shoes hanging around a pole outside the door of Webster Head Start over the summer. He says it's a known sign for drug activity.

"Drug activity doesn't change. A lot of the customs and activities that develop across the country it's playing in Peoria. Because there's a blind spot on one side of our property certain activities were taking place so we've taken some initiative, but we're blocking off the entrance ways to our property," Bragg said.

Several neighborhood groups concerned about drugs and crime are teaming up with the state's attorneys office to try and get more resources to fight the problem.

"When you look at the problems with drugs you wonder why you may see a homicide so a lot of times you can go back and that may have started from a drug problem," said South Side Up Neighborhood Association President Robin Berry.

Berry says by comparing notes and sharing information with police hopefully the streets will become safer and tennis shoes on utility wires will come down and get the use they were designed for.

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