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Hartford mayor, police, state lawmakers address string of fatal car crashes involving stolen cars

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HARTFORD –- Following recent serious and fatal car crashes involving stolen cars, regional and state leaders held a meeting on how they can work together to combat the crime. Hartford mayor, police, state lawmakers address the string of fatal car crashes involving stolen cars

Police said stolen cars have become a widespread issue in Connecticut and have led to accidents and even deaths.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Hartford Police Department, other municipal leaders, DCF, and the state’s attorneys office were just some of the representatives at the table at Thursday’s meeting.

Mayor Bronin said the group plans to focus on several items moving forward, such as raising awareness.

Hartford police said an overwhelming majority of cars stolen in Hartford and the greater Hartford area, had the keys left inside them.

“When you leave your car running in your driveway or you leave your key fob sitting in your car, you’re creating opportunity not just for that car to be stolen but potentially for that car to be used in a way that takes someone’s life,” he said.

In July, 56-year-old Rosella Shuler was hit by a stolen car occupied by juveniles at Ashley and Sigourney Street. Police said she lost her legs and succumbed to her injuries in the hospital.

Hartford police said in February, a 14-year-old crashed a stolen car on the Trinity College Campus. Police said one of the occupants may be paralyzed from the crash.

“There are a lot of innocent victims out there that are suffering because of this,” Hartford police Chief David Rosado said. “We have a responsibility to address that.”

Rosado said this is a problem that needs to be addressed by more than just law enforcement.

“This goes pre-arrest, post-arrest, what’s going on in the system and that’s why we brought all the players together today to look at that.”

The group that met Thursday is planning on exploring an auto-theft task force. They also want to look into way, possibly legislation, to crack down on repeat offenders, especially juveniles.

“Nobody wants to go back to the days of over-incarceration or just relying on detention but we also need to make sure that there is a system in place that provides both consequences and support to make sure these young people are getting on a different path,” Mayor Bronin said.

Hartford police said there were 773 vehicles stolen in Hartford in 2016 and 431 automobiles were stolen outside the city but recovered in Hartford. In 2017, 682 cars were stolen in the city, 615 from out of town were recovered locally.

This year, in January and February, there have been 150 reported stolen vehicles in Hartford, 97 from out of town were recovered locally.

So far this year, 35 stolen vehicle arrests have been made in Hartford, five were juveniles.

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