West Hartford Police are ramping up patrols and working with other departments across the region to target the rise in car burglaries as well as stolen cars.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford Police are increasing foot, bicycle, and unmarked vehicle patrols, restarting a social media campaign, and collaborating with other law enforcement agencies in order to combat a significant rise in the incidence of car burglaries and vehicle thefts.
A comparison of car burglaries for the period Oct. 1 through Oct. 19 this year vs. 2019 shows that reported car burglaries more than tripled – from 22 in 2019 to 71 in 2020. During the same period, auto thefts more than doubled, from four to nine.
“Across the greater Hartford area, including West Hartford, there has been an increase in burglaries into motor vehicles, auto thefts, and rims being stolen off cars,” West Hartford Police Capt. Michael Perruccio said in an email Tuesday.
Certain makes of vehicles – specifically Honda, Nissan, Ford, and Acura – have been targeted more often than others.
Incidents, including stolen cars, are happening in all parts of town, police said. The thieves, often operating in pairs or small groups, look for unlocked car doors, particularly doors of vehicles known to use key fobs.
“An unlocked vehicle can be stolen in seconds,” police said.
Police have also continued efforts to remind people to lock their cars to safeguard the contents, because in many cases thieves go around checking for unlocked doors.
“They are continuing this practice, but are now smashing windows of locked cars as well,” police said. “Please continue to lock your cars, put them in locked garages if you can, and do not leave any valuables out in the open.”
West Hartford residents have also recently reported multiple recent incidents of wheel rims being stolen off cars.
“Thieves are looking for the wheel lug-locking device in your car to help them steal the rims. Please do not leave this tool in your car or ensure it is hidden,” police said.
Most of the vehicles that have been stolen are those that use key fobs, police said, and in most cases those vehicles have been left unlocked with the fob in or near the car.
“Residents should remember that even if they lock their vehicle and the key fob is either inside or close to the vehicle, the vehicle door will still open due to the close proximity of the key fob,” police said. “Key fobs should not be stored in or near a vehicle.”
Police are also cautioning residents not to leave their vehicles running and unattended. Vehicles can be stolen from driveways while being warmed up, police said, as well as when people leave the car running while making a quick trip to pick up coffee or something else from a convenience store.
Police are increasing their patrols, particularly in areas of town where residents don’t have garages or other secure parking areas. Unmarked police vehicles, as well as bicycle and foot patrols are being employed.
The #9PMroutine social media campaign has been restarted in an effort to provide a nightly reminder to the community to lock their cars and secure belongings.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the region have been collaborating to target these crimes, and have been sharing information, police said.
West Hartford Police are also working with those in the community who have surveillance video of incidents, and are launching a voluntary video sharing program. Follow West Hartford Police on Facebook for updates about the program.
Residents should contact police immediately if they hear or see something suspicious.
“Oftentimes, we learn that others in the neighborhood did hear or see something, but did not call police. Police are asking residents to secure their vehicles and call when they see or hear suspicious activity.
“Working together, we will help keep West Hartford a safe and secure community,” police said.
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