One week after a man was arrested following a fire in what appeared to be a methamphetamine lab in a home in Stony Brook, Suffolk police are saying it is an isolated incident.
Deputy inspector Kevin Fallon said in a statement to Patch that while the police are still awaiting final laboratory results, this kind of incident is a rare occurance.
"Fortunately, methamphetamine, 'meth,' use in Suffolk County is not a major issue," he said. "Isolated instances have occurred."
Rather, he said, it's prescription drug abuse along with heroin and cocaine use that continue to be a major problem not only in Suffolk County, but also in the rest of the country.
"Much, if not most of our serious crime, revolves around the use of these drugs," Fallon said. "This drug use is not only the cause of major crimes, but also of countless lives ruined, families destroyed with devastating economic loss to our county."
Suffolk police and the Setauket Fire Department responded to the Dec. 6 fire, and while police did not immediately confirm that meth was involved, they later said they believed that was the case.
Thomas Steinmetz, 34, was arrested Dec. 7 after a fire broke out in the house in which he was living on Sycamore Circle in Stony Brook. He was charged with fourth-degree arson, a felony; criminal possession of precursors of methamphetamine, a felony; and first-degree reckless endangerment, a felony. He is due back in court Dec. 17.
Police said the house is a rental property occupied by several college students, though have not said definitively whether Steinmetz was a student.
Following the arrest, some residents expressed surprise that a local man was allegedly making meth in a home in the S Section, which is widely known as a very family-friendly community, and others expressed frustration over the idea that the property was a rental home.
"It is extremely disturbing to think the kids who attend school at Murphy walk by this house everyday. Rentals are a problem in all of Stony Brook and it is time that something is done about it," said Richard Fagan, who also expressed gratitude that the police acted quickly in the investigation.
"I thought it was a bit shocking to hear the fire was meth related," resident Susan Neuls Camenzuli said. "Honestly I don't have a problem with rental property. What I do have a problem with is renting it to a bunch of young students with no one to check regularly on the property."