'People are frustrated': Shelton officials seek to stop surge of car burglaries, thefts

Shelton Police

Shelton Police

Contributed photo

SHELTON — Local lawmakers will be pushing for harsher penalties for repeat juvenile offenders in hopes of quelling the increasing cases of vehicles being ransacked, burglarized or stolen throughout the city.

The Shelton Neighborhood Crime Watch Facebook page — created city resident JD Snyder in August — contains many posts with security cam footage of these types of incidents.

Statistics posted on the Shelton police website show motor vehicle thefts jumped from 22 in 2019 to 60 in 2020, and that is only through November. There has also been an increase in thefts from motor vehicles, with 62 reported in 2019 and 81 through November 2020.

And those are just cases reported to the police. Many more incidents go unreported, according to police Lt. Robert Kozlowsky, because either nothing was stolen from the vehicle or the owner does not even know their vehicle was entered.

“People are being victimized by young adults who realize there are no consequences,” said state Rep. Jason Perillo, R-113.

“This is a priority initiative for us as we look around our communities and see residents who feel helpless,” Perillo said.

Kozlowsky said increasing patrols is not the only answer.

“This issue is not a numbers game … an X number of patrol officers will not solve the problem,” Kozlowsky said. “Police go to one area, those committing the crimes move to another.”

Kozlowsky said, along with police continuing to patrol and investigate these crimes, residents must remain vigilant about always locking their vehicles and removing valuables and key fobs from them.

Kozlowsky also urged residents not to start their vehicle in the morning and leave it unattended. He said recent car thefts occurred when cars were left running outside.

Kozlowsky said “citizens and law enforcement must work with the state legislature to reform juvenile offender laws.”

“We need the help,” Kozlowsky added. “We have been in contact with other departments and they are speaking out about this issue as well. People are frustrated.”

In mid-December, the Newington Town Council wrote a letter to its legislative delegation, demanding they focus on the ongoing crisis of underage car theft and break-ins.

Perillo said House Republicans will push a proposal that will make it easier to transfer offenders from the juvenile court to the adult docket to face more serious consequences.

The Republican plan, according to Perillo, will also institute a provision for an automatic transfer to the adult docket for repeat offenders. The proposal also makes it easier for police to detain young adult offenders upon arrest.

“In the past, this proposal and others like it have been blocked by legislators who make excuses for offenders, rather than holding them accountable,” Perillo said. “In light of the increasing number of motor vehicle break-ins, it’s important for the public and law enforcement to speak up and be heard.”

“We’re tired of our communities being targets for thieves who have no fear of being held accountable,” Perillo added.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com