“My car was broken into,”…“all my outside lights were on….These individuals are not random, they are professionals…..“They are DANGEROUS professionals”
Woodbridge Facebook groups flared up with similar posts this spring, expressed by frustrated members whose cars or trucks had been entered, sometimes ransacked. Most cases involved unlocked vehicles, often with cash or other valuable in plain view.
“We were hit two nights in a row,” said one resident. Her husband chased them down the street, but it was dark and he couldn’t get the license plate.
According to police, break-ins occurred throughout town. “The thefts have not been isolated in one specific area of town,” said Police Chief Frank Cappiello. “It has been spread throughout town with no pattern, other than primarily occurring in residential driveways during the early morning hours.” More often than not, they seemed to happen in driveways off side-streets rather than along the state routes cutting through town.
What the posts expressed was a sense of alarm, even if the majority of the time the theft involved petty cash. “The thought of having people roaming through our yards at night is really distressing,” said one resident.
Cappiello, along with Deputy Chief Ray Stuart, First Selectman Beth Heller and Bethany Resident Trooper David Merriam attended a meeting with concerned residents July 10 at the JCC. Police has started tracking incidents in March, Capiello said, and had logged 33 such incidents. Car thefts also are up, he said, with 17 reported stolen through the first half of this year, while in comparison in 2017 only 14 vehicles were reported stolen over the whole year. Trooper Merriam said in Bethany, they had six vehicles stolen, versus one the previous year.
When asked what residents could do to prevent being hit, police reiterated what they had previously published in security alerts and emails:
- Lock your cars and garages at all times;
- Do not leave spare keys in your vehicle, or valuables in plain view;
- Report suspicious activity immediately to the Police (for non-emergencies call 203-387-2511).
Chief Cappiello encouraged those in attendance to become “the added eyes and ears of the community.” He encouraged them to make sure they know their neighbors, exchange phone numbers. Cappiello said police recently investigated a break-in, when they found out that a neighbor had noticed people in the back-yard, but did not report the activity, because the neighbor was not sure what was going on.
Deputy Chief Ray Stuart said the police department has a meeting room if people were looking for a space to form neighborhood watch groups as suggested by one resident in attendance. This resident said she was part of one such group in Westville before she moved to Woodbridge. Neighbors would get together about once every quarter. “I lived here for 34 years,” said another. ‘I used to know all my neighbors. Now I don’t know who lives there.”
“The long and short of it is, we’re all in this together,” Cappiello said. “People think they are bothering us. But we can’t do it without your help.”
The non-emergency number for the Police Department is (203) 387-2511, but people should not hesitate to call 911 if the number is not handy.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent