Wilton PD: Jump in car thefts, burglaries from last year

The Wilton Police Department has observed increases in stolen vehicles and thefts from vehicles over the past year, despite a slight drop from last month.

The Wilton Police Department has observed increases in stolen vehicles and thefts from vehicles over the past year, despite a slight drop from last month.

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WILTON — Stolen cars and thefts from vehicles are up year-over-year from January to July, according to Wilton Police Capt. Robert Cipolla.

From January to July of last year, the Wilton Police Department recorded just six stolen vehicles. That total was an increase from the year prior, and to this point in 2021, that number has risen again to 10 stolen vehicles, or about a 67 percent increase.

In the same span of time, Cipolla noted thefts from vehicles have nearly doubled.

For the seven-month period last year, Wilton saw 16 thefts from vehicles. To this point in 2021, Cipolla said there have been 29 cases of the same nature, or an 81 percent increase. In some of those instances, the police captain said, victims were targeted repeatedly.

Cipolla said police have observed that most of these incidents primarily occur in the residential areas of the town, rather than areas closer to Wilton Center. While private residences with cars parked in the driveway make up the majority of the incident reports, there are also condo parking lots that have been targets, he said Thursday.

Over the past few weeks, the police department has reminded residents through their social media accounts to lock their vehicles at night, as most car thefts take place in the late night or early morning when most residents are asleep, and other prevention tips. The department has also made multiple posts referring to July as Vehicle Theft Prevention Month.

“We are raising the awareness of residents, we (published) the education piece,” Cipolla said. “The last few weeks, it does seem to have slowed down a bit.”

Month-over-month, both stolen vehicles and thefts from vehicles incidents have gone down, he added.

“Compared to June, we only had two incidents each this month,” Cipolla said.

In nearly all of the incident reports, Cipolla said the cars that were entered or stolen were left unlocked, and many times with the key fobs inside. This is a tendency that has plagued Wilton and other suburban Fairfield County towns for years.

“In all of our stolen vehicles (incidents), keys are left inside the vehicle,” Cipolla said. “Generally, what we see is overnight burglaries and vehicles being entered, usually in residential driveways, and they are usually unlocked.”

Cipolla said that there have been a few incidents of forced entry to take valuables from a car that is locked at locations such as a gym or hiking trail parking lot. These incidents typically happen more often during daylight hours.

As has been observed by other police departments, including in New Canaan, Cipolla said a number of these incidents are thought to be committed by juveniles. He said when his department follows up on leads for stolen vehicles, they have been able to acquire footage from cameras owned by neighbors in town, or in neighboring cities where the vehicles are recovered.

“I recall in 2016, it seemed to proliferate a bit,” he said. “A lot were tied to identified juveniles from the New Haven area. Then, it became crews from the Waterbury and Bridgeport areas.”

Typically, stolen vehicles are recovered in the Bridgeport and Waterbury areas, Cipolla said.

Additionally, the department pays close attention to the use of stolen credit cards to make illegal transactions, according to Cipolla.