It’s was a perfect storm for the rise in car thefts in 2018, with three major factors playing key roles in the surge in Connecticut. First the technology of keyless entry combined with people leaving their keys in the car, second the opioid crisis, and third, the juvenile justice issue in our state.
As 2019 is only a couple weeks old, the auto theft problem does not seem to be getting any better this year. Chief Fred Spagnolo in Waterbury took to social media to ask residents for help saying there have been dozens of theft so far this new year.
This morning in Groton, police warned of 4 vehicles stolen this week, and had much of the same messaging. Asking residents to remain vigilant, report suspicious activity, lock their cars and remove the keys. They also recommended outdoor lighting and surveillance cameras.
But a new trend has emerged, cars being stolen, with keys in them from car dealerships, wholesalers and auto-auctions. Tuesday night in South Windsor, six cars were stolen from an auto wholesaler on Sullivan Avenue. All six of the cars has keys in them. The common practice among wholesalers and auto auctions is to leave the keys in the vehicle but secure the lot so those vehicles cannot be easily driven out. In South Windsor the thieves cut a lock on a fence, and two thieves were able to steal six cars, two at a time, throughout the night.
East Windsor is the home to many auto wholesalers and car dealerships, there, we spoke to the owner of Kristie’s Auto Sales. Kristie Steirer discussed business safety, “Well our biggest thing is obviously don’t leave any keys in the vehicles. We have awesome lights security cameras, we have security system, we lock our keys up it’s that simple. It’s obviously scary you don’t know when or if it’s going to happen to you, if it’s not gonna happen to you. We just make sure that everything is locked, the keys are out, The lights are bright, the security cameras work. It’s just you just cover all the steps and there’s not really much more you can do.”
Many of the regions stolen cars end up on the streets of Hartford, where they are looking at a nearly 300 percent increase in “out of town stolen car recoveries” in just a few years. A difficult balancing act for police who have to weigh the dangers of high speed pursuits, fatal crashes and potential deadly encounters with the a high number of stolen cars being driven around our roads.