CHESHIRE — The Police Department plans to use a $6,000 grant for extra patrols to combat car thefts and break-ins, a problem that hasn’t subsided with the coming of colder weather.
Police Chief Neil Dryfe will apply for the state grant following approval from the Town Council on Tuesday. He expects to receive the Violent Crime Prevention money, which is calculated based on the town’s population, crime rate and other factors.
In his presentation to the council, Dryfe said he’d intended to use this year’s grant during the spring months when incidents traditionally increase, but an upsurge of car thefts and break-ins this fall led him to decide that extra patrols are needed now.
“It appears that as the weather has turned colder, it has not stopped anyone,” Dryfe said.
There was a downturn in car break-ins immediately after the summer, but there were 28 reported in October and 14 in November. So far there have been 10 this month, according to Dryfe, who said the incidents were “up significantly” over last year.
Dryfe said one recent incident shows the increasing brazenness of the suspects, predominantly juveniles, who are looking for valuables in unlocked cars. Dryfe said after finding nothing to take in a local car, thieves used a garage door opener to enter a garage, took keys to two cars and stole them both. One car was found in Hartford being driven by two juveniles, one of whom had a gun.
Dryfe said he had no evidence that the juveniles found in the car had committed the thefts in Cheshire since stolen cars are often passed between people.
But Dryfe added, “I can’t tell you that it’s not.”
The juvenile with the gun was released to the custody of parents. Dryfe said state law didn’t allow for locking up the juvenile in this case.
Rob Oris, Town Council chairman, said he wants consideration of state law regarding juveniles on the town’s legislative agenda for its representatives in the General Assembly. Oris said car thefts are a statewide issue that should be addressed in Hartford.
“They don’t seem to be held very accountable when they get caught,” he said of perpetrators. “They just keep doing it. It’s just a matter of time before someone gets hurt.”
The pattern in Cheshire has been thieves checking for unlocked cars in driveways and sometimes stealing cars if the keys are in them. Dryfe said the criminals have thus far not been interested in breaking into cars and bypass locked cars.
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