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Woman Tries Stealing Off Duty Police Officer’s Car To Sell For Heroin

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter

Police busted a woman who allegedly stole several vehicles to sell for heroin after she attempted to steal an off-duty officer’s car outside a laundromat in Wisconsin.

Authorities arrested 22-year-old Katarina Panagiotopoulos on Feb. 27 in New Berlin, Wis., according to a criminal complaint, after the off-duty officer confronted and restrained Panagiotopoulos until police arrived on scene. Panagiotopoulos faces six criminal charges including operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, entry into a locked vehicle and joyriding, reports FOX 6.

Authorities issued a warrant for Panagiotopoulos Thursday after she failed to show up for a preliminary hearing. The complaint says Panagiotopoulos admitted to police she was “trying to get money or steal the vehicle so that she could support her heroin addiction.”

Panagiotopoulos is also accused of stealing a minivan on Feb. 22 from the parking lot of a convenience store after noticing the driver had left the car running. She allegedly drove the vehicle to a location in Milwaukee where she “was able to get heroin by trading the stolen Caravan vehicle with the heroin dealer.”

In an incident Jan. 25 outside the same convenience store, Panagiotopoulos stole another car whose owner left the vehicle running, taking it to the same location to purchase heroin. She targeted the store “to go car shopping or steal a vehicle,” according to the criminal complaint.

The addiction epidemic continues to batter states across the country, increasingly pushing desperate individuals dependent on opioids to buy street drugs like heroin and fentanyl.

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday shows the opioid epidemic is “accelerating.” Emergency room hospitalizations for opioid overdoses increased by 30 percent between the third quarters of 2016 and 2017 as opioid addiction continued its rapid spread throughout the population.

Also WATCH: President Trump Vows To Win The War Against Opioid Addiction

Hospitalizations for overdoses rose by 69.7 percent in the Midwest, 40.3 percent in the West, 21.3 percent in the Northeast and 20.2 percent in the Southwest. Overdoses in the Southeast rose at the slowest rate, increasing by 14 percent. Officials fear the overdose rate and death toll are likely higher than the official statistics show, because many overdose victims will never pass through an emergency room.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.

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