SOUTHINGTON — Police say their efforts over the past year to curb car thefts and burglaries have reduced those crimes and increased arrests both locally and regionally.
Police officials reported the results of the town’s auto theft task force, formed last February, to the Town Council on Monday night.
Master Sergeant Nathan Boislard said auto crimes have been a statewide problem. While 41 cars were stolen in 2019, that number jumped to 89 in 2020. Thefts from cars also rose from 113 in 2019 to 412 the following year.
With the formation of the auto crimes task force, better coordination with area departments and new investigative approaches, Boislard said police were able to bring those crimes down.
In 2021, there were 64 stolen cars. Thefts from cars totaled 215 for that year as well. Arrests have also jumped, Boislard said. While there were only six arrests in 2020, police charged 27 individuals, mostly juveniles, in relation to 66 auto crimes last year. Boislard said there are more arrest warrants in the works.
Town Council members were pleased with the results.
“I’m astounded at the statistics,” said Michael DelSanto, a Town Council member. “What we’re doing is working.”Model for other towns
Southington has four full-time officers dedicated to the task force as well as others who contribute time to investigations. Boislard said police found that stolen Southington vehicles were sometimes showing up in the course of violent crimes in Hartford and work with that city’s police department on arresting the perpetrators. Information gleaned by Southington detectives, such as DNA, fingerprints, video surveillance and more, has led to arrests by Hartford Police.
“A majority of the vehicles stolen in Southington are either recovered in Hartford or are used in a violent crime in Hartford,” Boislard said. “We realized early on this was a regional problem.”
Southington’s task force has attracted attention from nearby towns who are considering something similar. Two Cheshire police officers are shadowing the task force with an eye to using some of those techniques in that town.
“It’s great that this is a model for other towns,” said Val DePaolo, a Town Council member. She asked Boislard if violent crimes have also risen in Southington. Boislard said violent crimes are most often associated with the stolen cars only once they’ve been driven to a major city.
Auto crimes also prompted the creation of neighborhood watches throughout the town that provide police with information on potential perpetrators or footage of thefts.