Special To The Herald
If you leave your car unlocked, with the keys in the ignition or with valuables inside, you may want to think twice before continuing to do so.
AAA has reported that car thefts are spiking during the summer months in Connecticut and, New Britain, Newington, Bristol and other area communities are not immune from car thieves.
AAA reported that there were six cars stolen in one night in Greenwich last month. And on July 31, a 2007 Lexus ES350 was stolen in Newington, according to the Hartford police Major Crimes Division.
Most of the stolen cars were unlocked and many had keys left inside the vehicle. These thefts are taking place across the state and can happen to anyone who leaves their automobile open to intruders, said an AAA spokesman.
“From Hartford to Greenwich, stolen cars have been making headlines lately,” Greg Lauria, AAA insurance spokesperson, said in a statement. “AAA wants to remind vehicle owners that there are simple steps they can take to protect what is typically one of their most significant investments.”
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, July and August are the peak months for car thefts. Berlin, Bristol, New Britain, Plainville and Southington officers urge people to be more careful when leaving their vehicles unattended.
Berlin police, Deputy Chief John Klett reported that there have been 12 stolen vehicles this year, nine of which were stolen from driveways and were unlocked with keys or fobs inside. Klett says he doesn’t see a common trend among the brand or type of car stolen.
What can people do to ensure the safety of their vehicles? “Lock your cars, don’t leave anything of value in them, and never leave the keys or fob in the vehicle,” Klett said.
Car thefts in Bristol are increasing as well. According to Bristol police Capt. Edward Spyros, there is almost a 16 percent increase for 2017 in motor vehicle thefts compared to last year.
“Most car thefts can be described as joy riding - not the theft of a vehicle for profit,” Spyros said. “As teens are out of school and bored, this may lead to summertime increase in thefts. Most thefts occur from vehicles idling or the keys left in an unattended vehicle. Modern vehicles have complex ignitions that can be easily bypassed.”
Bristol had the lowest number of car thefts in April, with a total of six thefts. They experienced the most thefts in July, reaching a total of 17. The previous year’s statistics for thefts in Bristol seem to replicate this year so far, with lower thefts in the beginning of the year and steadily increasing thefts heading towards the summer months.
According to New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell, there has actually been a decrease in summer car thefts compared to last year. In the April-July months in 2016, New Britain had 185 car thefts. That number has decreased so far this year, to a total of 127 thefts.
Plainville has experienced a lower number of thefts, totaling nine so far this year, but has experienced double the amount of thefts in the summer months compared to earlier in the year.
“We certainly get a spike in car break-ins,” Plainville police Lt. Nicholas Mullins said. According to Mullins, reports show that there were a total of three vehicle thefts in January through March. In the following four months, that number doubled, with six vehicle thefts.
According to the Southington Police Department, there have been 31 dispatch calls related to thefts of motor vehicles as of late July. There were as many as 13 thefts in July, making up nearly half of the total for the year to date.