WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — The Waterbury Police Department is hoping to drive home the importance of awareness when it comes to stolen cars.
They’re beginning a social media campaign to post the number of car thefts on its Facebook page on a more regular basis to keep the public informed and to hopefully prevent people from making themselves easy targets for criminals.
In a Facebook post on Friday, the department said from Oct. 17-23, 17 cars were reported as stolen in Waterbury and of those 17 stolen cars, the keys were inside 14 of them.
Waterbury isn’t the only police department posting on Facebook about the current auto theft crisis. In neighboring Watertown, police there posted an alert last week after criminals tried to get into open garages to try to steal cars there.
Watertown Police’s Facebook post included a picture with a message that read: “Don’t be an easy target. Lock your cars and take your keys.”
“We’re really trying to educate the public not to become a victim,” said Watertown Police Chief Joshua Bernegger. “The vast amount of crimes are crimes of opportunity where vehicles are either left running or they are unlocked with the keys left in the car… We’re not victim-blaming here, but there’s a very easy way to not become a victim.”
In Waterbury, police say they regularly have their Auto Theft Task Force hitting the streets investigating stolen car cases in Waterbury and searching for stolen cars in areas where criminals are known to dump them.
At a press conference with the governor on Thursday, Mayor Neil O’Leary said a small number of young people are causing a big part of the problem.
“Those 20 individuals… we label them high-risk, repeat juvenile offenders,” O’Leary said. “They’re the ones involved in the stolen cars, the gunplay, the shootings.”
This isn’t just a Waterbury and Watertown problem. It’s happening all over Connecticut. Police are concerned it might get worse as it gets colder. They urge you not to leave your car running unattended outside to warm it up.
Police also urge you to always lock your doors, always take your keys with you, and never leave any valuables in plain sight.