HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — In August, 13-year-old Jaden Cooper was killed when the stolen car he was driving crashed in Hartford. This week, a four-year-old boy died in a stolen vehicle crash in Branford. It’s tragedies like these police are worried are on the rise.
“Our auto theft problem here, while cars in the city are not getting stolen, the amount of cars that are stolen from outside the city and then recovered here in the City of Hartford have gone up drastically,” said Deputy Chief of Police Brian J. Foley.
Foley says the number have risen from 196 in 2013 to 300 in 2015 to more than 400 this year. Certain cars like Honda Accords and Civics have always been popular among thieves, but Foley says now criminals are targeting all makes and models.
“The major reason we think the keyless technology. You have these key fobs and they are leaving them in their vehicle or close enough to their vehicle,” said Foley.
If a car is left unlocked the keyless technology allows a thief to simply get in and push a button to start the engine. Police say many cars are stolen for joyrides, but some thieves have motives that run much deeper.
“Opioids. When you’re addicted to either heroin or Oxycontin or pills you steal to support your habit,” said Foley.
Foley says some thieves target the car’s contents while others are thinking bigger.
“They literally walk from driveway to driveway in the suburbs, either people from the suburbs or from the city and literally pull on door handles,” said Foley. “Now with keyless fob entry now you’re seeing them actually stealing the cars, bringing them into the city ad trading them for a short level of narcotics.”
Last week three cars were reported stolen in Clinton and another 25 were broken into to. Hamden Police also say they’ve seen an increase. Police Chief Thomas Wydra released the following statement to News 8:
“I’m a firm believer that unemployment and poverty rates, high school graduation rates and job opportunities play an applicable role in property crimes.”
Whatever the reason, as recent episodes show, the results can be devastating.
“It is extremely dangerous for our officers. It’s extremely dangerous for our citizens and it’s extremely dangerous for the kids that are stealing the cars,” said Foley.