A task force created last winter and charged with fighting the theft of motor vehicles in Connecticut has recovered more than 150 stolen cars and arrested more than 20 juveniles.
Members of the Multi-City Auto Theft and Urban Violence Task Force have been working tirelessly to fight the rising trend of vehicles taken from the state's suburban and rural communities. The task force is composed of detectives from the following agencies: Connecticut State Police, Bridgeport Police, Hartford Police, and Waterbury Police. The task force is also charged with combatting the surge of violence related to the stolen vehicles in Connecticut's largest cities.
From the establishment of the task force on February 1, 2020, through July 12, 2020, the task force has recovered 154 stolen cars, eight stolen firearms, and a badge from a local police department. Detectives have arrested 22 juveniles, totaling 59 felony arrests for larcenies, illegal possession of weapons, etc. One person was arrested for operating a drug factory; crack and fentanyl were seized. The task force also solved two shootings in Hartford.
The task force found that automobiles are stolen in an organized, directed manner. The suspects, many of them juveniles, travel to the suburbs from all major Connecticut cities. They go with anywhere from 2-6 people, possibly more, in a car. The cars they are traveling in are frequently stolen themselves, or may be newly stolen but not yet reported.
The suspects travel to suburban neighborhoods, typically in the dark early morning hours, and deploy on foot. They check for unlocked cars in driveways and on streets to search for firearms, valuables (laptops, phones, purse, and wallet), money, and car keys. Connecticut suspects have affected neighborhoods all across the state and into New York State and Massachusetts as well. Typically, if they encounter a locked vehicle or one without keys inside, they quickly move on to the next automobile.
Members of the task force report that once a car is stolen, the suspects drive them back to the cities and park them, retaining the keys for future use. Firearms taken from cars are either kept for later use or sold.
Many of the stolen vehicles are employed as "rentals" in the cities, whereby the suspect either keeps the keys or hides them near the parked car. The cars are then marketed via social media and smartphone apps to other persons for criminal purposes. An agreement is struck online or in-person, and the location of the car/keys is provided.
These cars are used for preplanned shootings/assaults, drug trafficking, human trafficking, stealing other vehicles, etc. At this time, the evidence does not support that these crimes are committed for a "joyride" or as a result "bored juveniles."
Law enforcement reinforces this message to all Connecticut residents: lock all vehicles at all times and remove all valuables (laptops, phones, firearms, cash, etc.) every night. These individuals are committing more crimes – and increasingly more serious crimes – with these stolen cars and the items taken from them, including firearms. Make this your mid-year resolution: remove all valuables, grab the keys and lock the doors so that you are not the next victim in our state.