Page 40 - Southington Magazine Holiday 2020 Issue 42
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Southington Magazine — Holiday 2020
Attorney Paul Bedard
Guarding Against Car Burglaries and Package Theft
Car burglaries have been on the rise locally and else- where during this pandemic. It was reported in September that Southington has seen an increase in vehicle burglaries from 85 in 2019 to 276 in 2020 over the same period — an increase of over 200 percent. Although this increase in car burglaries is specific to this year, package theft becomes more commonplace during every holiday season. The fol- lowing are some practical tips to help minimize the pros- pect of a car burglary, as well as some suggestions to help protect your holiday packages during the shipping process.
Southington is an amazing community with an out- standing police department. However, the sense of safety that accompanies these attributes does not equate to im- munity from car burglaries. I reached out to Lieutenant Stephen Elliott of the Southington Police Department for some insight in this regard. “Southington residents feel safe here. Therefore, they don’t always lock their car doors the way they might in other areas and they all too often leave valuables within their vehicles. However, and not only in Southington, this remains an increasing crime. The people committing these crimes sometimes reside locally, and other times within surrounding cities and towns. We have people out in unmarked cars and bicycles at times as part of the Department’s effort to combat these crimes. We have also swabbed vehicles following car burglaries to obtain DNA that might identify suspects and possibly tie them to other crimes.”
Additional challenges involve the age of the people often committing these crimes as well as the ability to pursue offenders following these burglaries. According to Lieutenant Elliott, “A lot of the perpetrators are juveniles. Unfortunately, the juvenile justice system does not always have the tools to address this effectively. A juvenile will generally not be locked up for stealing from a car and in
some cases the juvenile justice system chooses not to pros- ecute. Additionally, there is a statewide policy prohibiting the police from pursuing someone who is burglarizing or even stealing a car. To pursue, the risk of the ongoing con- tinued harm to the public should the vehicle being pur- sued get away from the police must outweigh the risk that the pursuit could pose to the public.”
The following are some suggestions to help minimize the occurrence of car burglaries:
l If you hear or see something suspicious, call the South- ington Police Department. Speak to the dispatcher, identify yourself, and provide the relevant details for the Department to investigate. However, never take it upon yourself to address a burglary in process. These offenders are sometimes armed and dangerous.
l Always lock your car doors and close all windows. Many of these burglaries are thefts of opportunity where the perpetrators are simply looking for unlocked car doors rather than a vehicle to forcibly break into.
l Do not leave valuables within your vehicle, especially not in plain view. If you must leave valuables within your vehicle, use the trunk rather than the console or glove box.
l If your vehicle is outside, park in a well-lit area.
It has been reported that more than 23 million Americans have fallen victim to the theft of a package within the shipping process and that nearly one-third of homeowners have experienced package theft. Due to in- creased opportunities, porch pirates are particularly ac- tive during the holiday season. The Southington Police Department fields these types of complaints each holiday season. However, Lieutenant Elliott sees a silver lining this year. “If there is a bright side to this COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that we may see less package theft due to the number of

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