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This story was updated November 15 to reflect information on related charges.
In view of a spate of vehicles being illegally entered overnight on November 9-10, Police Chief James Viadero is again urging residents to keep their vehicles locked and secured when unattended, as a deterrent to crime.
Chief Viadero and the police department have made similar statements at least half a dozen times in just the past year, according to a search through Newtown Bee archives. Among the most recent was after items were taken from an unlocked, unoccupied vehicle in a Shadow Ridge Circle driveway in September.
Also in September, an unlocked vehicle with its automatic ignition device left inside it was stolen out of a Schoolhouse Hill Road driveway.
This past April, an Audi A4 was stolen during an overnight from a residential property on Schoolhouse Hill Road. It was not immediately clear if that vehicle was unlocked or if its keys were inside at the time of the theft.
And an unlocked Range Rover with its keys inside it was stolen out of a residential driveway on Horseshoe Ridge Road in December 2016.
According to a November 10 discussion within a local Facebook group, police responded to a string of complaints from residents living on streets including Turkey Hill Road, Nearbrook Drive, Mile Hill Road South, and Cobblers Mill Road following a series of incidents that occurred during the darkness of night. Those incidents reportedly included the attempted theft of a vehicle, the theft of items from a vehicle, the rifling of a vehicle’s interior without any theft, and the theft of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), which was used for a brief joy ride in the woods.
Police said November 15 that two local 16-year-old boys, whom they arrested on auto theft charges on November 13 in connection with overnight incidents on November 12-13, have admitted their involvement with the vehicle-related crimes on November 9-10.
Chief Viadero said similar problems have been occurring throughout Fairfield County, adding that police in the region are seeking to form a task force to better investigate such crimes.
As basic deterrents to prevent such crimes, Chief Viadero stressed the need for residents to keep their vehicles locked when unattended, to remove all valuables from vehicles when unattended, and to not leave keys inside of vehicles.
“You’re making yourself a target” if deterrents are not taken, he said. Not taking deterrents amounts to complacency, he added.
The police chief said that because Interstate 84, Route 25, and Route 34 pass through Newtown, criminals have easy access to the town. Police have found that many of the people who illegally enter vehicles are “juveniles,” or people under age 18.
In some cases, several juveniles will travel to a town at night and then repeatedly try to open many vehicle doors in seeking to steal items, he said.
The theft problem is a cyclical one, he noted. During the past two weeks Lower Fairfield County has been the target of such crimes, he said.
Of the November 9-10 incidents in Newtown, Chief Viadero said, “The common denominator is that cars were left open” by the owners, making them a crime target, he said.
If residents observe suspicious behavior, they should contact police to report it, he said.