Perillo, McGorty call for bipartisan support in tackling car theft crisis

State Reps. Ben McGorty (R-122), right, and Jason Perillo (R-113) were sworn in officially as returning members of the Connecticut state legislature on Jan. 6, during a socially-distanced ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol building in Hartford.

State Reps. Ben McGorty (R-122), right, and Jason Perillo (R-113) were sworn in officially as returning members of the Connecticut state legislature on Jan. 6, during a socially-distanced ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol building in Hartford.

Contributed photo / Contributed photo

SHELTON — The legislative session closes on Wednesday, but that is not stopping local legislators from asking their peers across the aisle for help on a bill that would put stronger penalties on car break-ins.

State Reps Jason Perillo, R-113, and Ben McGorty, R-122, say they have hopes the proposed amendment will tackle the alarming rise in juvenile car break-ins across the state.

Perillo introduced the measure last week to address repeat offenders and create consequences for committing vehicle crimes. Unfortunately, he said, the amendment was rejected along party lines.

“My colleagues who voted this amendment down were concerned about the unintended consequences of passing it, and to them I say what about the unintended consequences of doing nothing?” Perillo said. “So, let's talk about consequences. Connecticut youth continue to commit these crimes because there are no consequences, which only encourages them to do it again, and again.”

Perillo said last month alone in Connecticut, three cars were stolen with children still inside.

“How is that not reason enough to stop this?” Perillo asked. “If we don't act now, we'll be right back in this chamber discussing this same issue, only then the conversation will be much more solemn, because someone will have gotten hurt, and someone will have died. We have an opportunity to prevent that right now, before session ends on June 9.”

McGorty said House Republicans have repeatedly introduced what they characterize as “common-sense” solutions that have gone nowhere.

“Too many families and neighborhoods have been terrorized for us to do nothing … my own car has been broken into multiple times in my own driveway,” McGorty said. “What kind of message are we sending to our constituents who count on us to fight for their interests and take their personal safety seriously?"

Perillo’s amendment would:

Allow the Department of Children and Families to conduct investigations into instances of a repeat juvenile offender to examine their parent situation and home life, with the option of investigating further depending on their findings;

Removes the six-hour cap on how long a juvenile offender may be held.

Creates an opportunity for the court system to determine that a minor poses a risk to public safety if, after a first conviction as a delinquent, there is a second charge for theft of a vehicle, stealing of a firearms, or a violent offenses, especially with a deadly weapon.

Instructs the courts to order any minor convicted of a repeat offense involving a motor vehicle to be placed under parental/guardian supervision. Upon a third offense within a specified period of time, the minor may be held until all three offenses have received ruling.

The 2021 legislative session adjourns at midnight Wednesday.

“There is still time to reach a bipartisan solution and I’m eager to find common ground that addresses the issue,” Perillo said.