Officials say car break-in bills a start, but more needed

NEW BRITAIN (AP) — Police and officials in central Connecticut facing a rash of car break-ins and burglaries say recent legislation is a start but that more measures are needed.

The bills passed by the General Assembly affect juveniles as well as adults who entice them into committing crimes such as a car theft or break-in. Motor vehicle thefts rose four-fold in Berlin from 2019 to 2020 and Newington police reported a 92 percent increase.

Police say it’s a small minority of offenders who are committing the vast majority of the crimes but that the system often doesn’t hold them accountable. They say a diversionary program implemented late last year that provides mental health services and requires juvenile offenders to do community service must be fully operational. “If they’re focusing on providing juveniles with services I would hope they truly put the financial resources into those services,” Newington Police Chief Stephen Clark told the New Britain Herald. “You just can’t say you’re going to do it and not actually have it done.”

Under state law, police are prohibited from chasing people who commit non-violent property crimes such as stealing a parked car. In addition, police requests to the State Judicial Branch to detain juveniles considered a risk to public safety or themselves can go unfulfilled, resulting in the juveniles being released immediately.

One of the bills seeks to provide the Judicial Branch with more resources to manage those requests.

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