The Waterbury gang members stealing unlocked motor vehicles from local homes are nearly always juveniles—some as young as 14 years old—and often have been arrested multiple times in the past, according to New Canaan Police Department Chief Leon Krolikowski.
One girl arrested in connection with the thefts in New Canaan had been charged with 53 felonies “and she was not even held, she was released,” Krolikowski told members of the Police Commission at their regular meeting last week.
“The justice system lets them get arrested multiple times,” the chief said at the Nov. 15 meeting, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department.
He added: “That is part of the problem with the system.”
The comments came about one week after New Canaan residents reported multiple thefts of vehicles from their homes. In all cases, cars were unlocked with their keys inside—a curious practice that has persisted among some in town despite multiple warnings from police through local news outlets, as well as the department’s own social media tools and, recently, a town-wide call from Krolikowski himself.
The thieves are not seeking to steal and sell off the motor vehicles, Krolikowski said. Rather, “they are joyriding, pretty much,” he said.
“There is no economic incentive for them.”
The juveniles steal cars from New Canaan, dump them in Waterubry and then “go back out again to steal more cars,” he said.
“It’s fun for them. They drive 100 mph sometimes when we are involved in pursuits. There’s a recklessness to it that is concerning. We tell people to stop leaving your birdfeeders out so the bears don’t come. Let’s stop doing this so they don’t come.”
New Canaan has seen thefts of cars from town more than double in 2017 compared to 2016, Krolikowski said. Thefts from motor vehicles also are up year-over-year, from 31 to 36, he said, and the two are connected.
The Waterbury juveniles “keep replicating and coming back” to the area, the chief said.
“They have stolen over 100 vehicles in Fairfield County. We had a big meeting the other day with all the chiefs and command staff trying to develop a strategy.”
Krolikowski said he and others in this part of the state are eager to see the Waterbury Police Department chief get involved, too. He added that Greenwich, Darien and other towns have seen multiple thefts of cars.
“Everyone in the area has been hit, so we are not alone by any means,” Krolikowski said.