Residents in the Long Hill Avenue area were advised to lock their cars in their driveways and keep valuables out of the sight of potential thieves.
“I’ve never seen something stolen from a car trunk,” Sgt. Michael Lawrence told about 75 people who attended a crime prevention meeting organized in the neighborhood by the Shelton Police Department.
Police said people should not leave keys in their cars or keep lawn equipment outside at night. “You always want to make it difficult for property to be taken,” Sgt. George Rodrigues said.
“Take some precautions and you’re less likely to be victims,” Lawrence said.
The Oct. 23 meeting at Long Hill School was held to offer crime prevention tips and discuss the idea of forming a formal Neighborhood Watch program.
‘Huge spike’ in car larcenies
Police said there usually are eight or so larcenies a month in Shelton, but that number has jumped to about 30 in October. Up to half of those larcenies took place in the Long Hill School area, with “a huge spike” over a two-week period, they said.
The kind of items being taken are GPS systems, laptop computers, cameras, wallets, and cash. Most of the car larcenies have taken place at night, but some have been during the day.
The good news is that a couple of people have been identified as suspects and may be arrested soon, police Chief Joel Hurliman said.
“My guess is they weren’t the only ones out there, so don’t let your guard down,” Hurliman said.
A larceny is when someone steals something without force or breaking anything, such as a window in a house or car.
Larceny is usually a crime of opportunity. “They don’t want to spend a lot of time there,” Rodrigues said of criminals. “They want to steal things and leave.”
Look for suspicious behavior
Residents were told to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior, such as people walking and driving by their homes who appear to be casing out the property.
They were advised to call the police’s main number at 203-924-1544 when they see something suspicious, and officers would follow up on the matter.
“If it’s nothing, that’s OK,” Rodrigues said.
People should call 9-1-1 only in an actual emergency, such as if they are witnessing a crime.
People should not directly confront those acting suspiciously, but instead call the police.
Some other recommendations are to install motion detector lights on the outside of houses, and not let shrubs cover ground-floor windows.
Public has a role to play
One message of the meeting was to encourage people to get involved, with officials noting police can’t be everywhere. “We can’t do it alone,” Lawrence said. “We need your help.”
Mayor Mark Lauretti told residents that crime problems have surfaced in other neighborhoods in the past, and the public’s active involvement has been key to improving the situation.
“Government and the police can’t protect you all the time,” Lauretti said. “The way we deal with the problem is we solicit the help of the public.”
Lauretti lives in the neighborhood, and a personal car of his was stolen from his driveway in late July and eventually recovered in New Haven.
Speeding also is a neighborhood concern
Residents also used the meeting to complain about people driving too fast.
“The speeding that goes on in our neighborhood is atrocious,” said one woman, noting she recently observed two accidents, including one in which a car flipped over.
Residents suggested using the temporary signs that show a driver’s speed and putting in speed bumps.
Lauretti agreed that speeding can be a problem in many parts of Shelton. “It’s one of the top complaints I get,” he said at the meeting.