10/20/2011 01:37 pm ET | Updated Dec 20, 2011

Heroin Stolen From Police Evidence Locker In Will County Valued At $500,000

Police say four kilos of heroin valued at $500,000 were stolen from an evidence locker at the Will County Sheriff's Department.

Investigators say someone slipped through an opening in the fence and cut the padlock that secured a container storing four individually-wrapped kilos of heroin, Fox Chicago reports.

Marijuana, a saw, a bow-and-arrow set, and several other small items were also stolen, according to the Chicago Tribune. The items had been secured in a storage container on a lot where the impounded vehicles are stored, a significantly less secure location than is standard for valuable evidence, experts told the Tribune.

The loss is considered a major setback in Will County's efforts to combat the region's heroin epidemic, which has caused 22 fatal heroin overdoses this year alone, the Tribune reports. The theft could also significantly inhibit prosecution efforts in any narcotics cases dependent on the missing evidence.

"In cases where these drugs were the basis for the charge, boy I think the state's out of luck," Loyola University law professor Jamie Carey, who has written a book on courtroom evidence, told the Tribune. "If they don't have the contraband itself, I feel that they're not going to be able to proceed."