SHELTON — City residents are joining the fight against people who steal from unlocked vehicles — and in some instances stealing the vehicles as well.

With 16 such police reports filed between Aug. 7 and 10 alone, resident JD Snyder this week created the Shelton Neighborhood Crime Watch Facebook page.

The focus of the page to date has been the incidents of thefts of vehicles or the valuables from inside.

“This is not just a Shelton problem,” said Shelton Police Lt. Robert Kozlowsky. “This is a problem throughout the state.”

In response to the ever-present threat, Kozlowsky said, the department has increased patrol checks. The downside, he said, is that officers cannot predict what street will be hit next.

The Shelton Neighborhood Crime Watch page has a map with each location, since Aug. 8, pinpointed. Overall, the page identifies 28 such incidents with location since the map went up.

Kozlowsky said officers have examined residents’ outside cameras and continue to work with neighboring communities to catch the perpetrators.

“The main thing is education,” said Kozlowsky, adding that in most of the cases, the owner left the vehicle unlocked.

The take has been good for the thieves: wallets to cash, laptops to expensive cameras and even car keys have been left in unlocked cars, according to Kozlowsky.

“They are not breaking in. … They are going house to house, searching for unlocked vehicles and taking anything of value inside,” Kozlowsky said. “Lock your cars and hide your valuables. In most cases, they are walking up to cars, checking to see if unlocked. If it’s locked, in most cases they move on.”

So far in 2020, the Shelton police crime stats listed on the department’s website have reported 27 incidents of motor vehicle theft and 35 of theft from a motor vehicle through the end of June.

By comparison, Shelton police fielded 22 reports of motor vehicle theft for the entirety of 2019, with 62 reports of theft from a motor vehicle.

The rash of similar cases statewide was the reason the state police created the Connecticut Auto Theft Taskforce last winter, he said.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com