HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The numbers are startling, as you look at them. West Hartford, East Hartford, Manchester, New Britain – cars being stolen from there and ending up in Hartford to be used in violent crime. The numbers keep growing and one of the problems is you don’t even have to have the key fob inside the car now for the thieves to steal.
It’s happening almost nightly in the Hartford area. “We do hear our alarms go off in the cars, so someone is jiggling around. It woke me up out of bed,” says West Hartford resident Chuck Montgomery.
Montgomery lives on the West Hartford, Hartford border, and thieves drove a stolen car through his fence into his yard. “That just infuriates me to know this is a repetitive problem.”
Over the past 22 months, more than 700 stolen cars have been recovered in Hartford. Nearly 300 of them from East Hartford, West Hartford and New Britain alone.
West Hartford police are issuing a warning:
“We can’t stress it enough, it’s an invitation for a thief to steal your car, you have to lock it up!” says Captain Michael Perruccio.
Police say they are seeing a disturbing new trend – cars being stolen out of garages and off of driveways where the key is hanging on a hook inside the house, but close enough to start the car remotely even though it is not in the vehicle.
Police recommend testing the starting distance of your key fob, and you can always get a small little protective pouch, which will shield the signal.
“If they are within a certain proximity of the car, the car will start so I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep that fob either away from the vehicle or protected in such a manner that it’s not going to start the vehicle,” Cpt. Perruccio explains.
And while it is an uphill battle, Hartford police are making progress. On Tuesday, thieves stole a range rover from Wethersfield. Police used stop sticks to contain it and arrest the driver. They have teamed up with the state police to catch the car thieves, as many times the stolen cars are used in shootings.
“The auto theft task force is now in bedded with us, they are focused on the stolen cars that are producing the violence, very focused!” Chief Jason Thody, Hartford PD.
West Hartford police say if you do hear something in the middle of the night, call the police because that is what they are there for.