A new Indiana State Police database gives Hoosiers information about where clandestine meth labs have been found around the state, including those discovered in Bartholomew County.
About 300 Bartholomew County locations dating back to 2007 are listed on the website.
The database includes seven meth labs found inside Columbus-area homes since Jan. 1, 2013. Three instances of meth-related chemicals were reported in vehicles in the county during the same period, while one case involves a meth lab found in a garage or outbuilding.
The website offers important information to potential homebuyers, homeowners, property investors or renters who might not know that the dangerous chemicals once were found on the property in question, ISP Meth Suppression Commander Sgt. Niki Crawford said. It also might apply to those considering buying a used vehicle, as some meth labs have been found in cars.
Long-term exposure to chemicals used in making methamphetamine can lead to cancer, organ damage and numerous other health problems, particularly to children, according to the National Board of Realtors website.
If the chemicals aren’t properly removed by a hazardous materials team, they can permeate nearly every surface of a home or other property, such as a vehicle, and remain long after the meth lab is gone, the board stated.
A new link on the Indiana State Police website, meth.in.gov, went live Tuesday. To reach the listings, click on “Clan Lab Addresses” in the left-hand column.
Police aren’t tracking the number of people visiting the website yet, as information still is being added to the database and media checks to the site might inflate the numbers, Crawford said.
The link lists properties that previously were identified by law enforcement as the location of a clandestine meth lab. Users can find the date of seizure, county, street address, type of lab and location of the lab on individual listings. In addition, labs seized in vehicles will have the vehicle identification number listed if the lab was seized after 2012.
The state police decided to make the database public because state police officers have been collecting the data for years for internal purposes, and had it readily available, Crawford said.
Former meth lab sites where the property owners have shown proof the house or apartment has been properly decontaminated are not on the online list.
Current listings can be removed after the state police receives a Certificate of Illegal Drug Lab Cleanup from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Specific timelines and listing removal requirements are in House Bill 1141, which was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Mike Pence.
The listings include only seized meth labs that appear on state police criminal incident reports or reports sent to them by another law enforcement agency, Crawford said.
Anyone who discovers through a real estate transaction that a meth lab had been on a property can have it listed on the website by calling the ISP Meth Suppression Section at 317-234-4591.
State investigators will determine if the property in question was taken off the list after decontamination, or if a drug lab was never reported to the Indiana State Police for that location, Crawford said.
Realtors are notified by letters from state health officials if a property they are listing has been the site of a meth lab, so information can be disclosed to potential buyers, Remax broker and property manager Annette Donica said.
While specific questions concerning former meth labs are seldom brought up by clients, there are often broader inquiries asked by homebuyers, Donica said.
“They will ask if it’s a safe neighborhood,” Donica said. However, most specific questions regarding a property’s history are usually focused on deaths, violent acts and flooding, she said.
The new website is just one of a number of online tools that can used to help determine for themselves if a property will be a good investment, Donica said.
With 43 meth labs identified in Bartholomew County last year, the county ranked ninth out of all 92 counties for 2013 on the website. However, six of those listings represent findings that were counted twice, Columbus Police Department spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said.
That’s how many times ISP experts picked up confiscated meth labs from a secure police location last summer.
While ISP records the original location where meth labs are found as one listing, they also record the pickup of the same items from the secure location as another incident to be counted, Myers said.