A Washington family said they began to suffer mysterious headaches and upset stomachs after their car was stolen and returned with high traces of meth and fentanyl unbeknownst to them.
Jake Culver, of Pierce County, said his family had been initially relieved when police brought back their 2002 Ford F350 pickup truck as good as new after it was stolen.
The father of two said he had driven the car a few times until his 5- and 10-year-old kids started having upset stomachs and sleep disruptions, with Culver also getting strange headaches, Fox 13 reports.
A friend of Culver's wife recommended that they get the car tested for drugs, with a subsequent exam revealing the car had traces of meth that exceeded national safe exposure limits eightfold.
It also tested positive for twice the safety limit for fentanyl.
"My wife just broke down in tears when I told her the results of the test," Culver told Fox. "My heart sank. If she had inhaled the fentanyl or something like that, I mean, who knows where we'd be right now."
Culver slammed his insurance company for failing to test his truck for drugs, which he said was a service it provided for stolen vehicles that are recovered.
"I expect the people paid to help us through these troubles would actually do their job, and that's more shocking, frankly, than the drug use and the car theft," he said.
"We can't undo the exposure my family experienced, but we can hopefully educate other people who do get their cars back or are about to get their cars back that they need to have these things tested every single time."
Following the rise of fentanyl and opioid abuse in the US, car maintenance and cleaning workers have said more and more stolen vehicles have been getting drug-tested, KNDU reports.
"If the [fentanyl] purity levels are up there, it's deadly," Bio Management Northwest chief John Thomas Stavros, who tests cars for drugs, told the outlet.
AEI Decon, another company that treats cars that have been found with drug traces, lists meth exposure as a serious risk for children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.
Symptoms for meth exposure can include burning eyes, throat and nose irritation, fever, rapid heart rate, hallucinations, moderate or severe headaches and impairment of mental capabilities.