Hamden is dealing with a rash of armed robberies, including three reported within 30 minutes on Monday, according to police.
“Between 6:50 am and 7:20 am,” said Hamden Police spokesperson Captain Ronald Smith. “These things are happening quick and it’s one after the other.”
Police said the November numbers show 70 car thefts and ten street robberies, some of them armed. The crime has some residents concerned.
“Given the circumstances, not everyone is able to go out and feel safe going out,” said Carlos Riollano of Hamden.
“You can’t even shop at Shoprite because they’re constantly going after older people,” said Trudy McMahon of Hamden.
Police say it may seem like a lot but they’re doing their best to stay on top of the cases.
“Several other towns and cities have had the same problem, so our detectives are working with their detectives, and it appears to be that there are several groups of teens out there that are committing these crimes,” said Smith.
Smith says they’re making progress, pointing out the Sunday arrest of an 18-year-old for robbery and assault of an elderly person last month.
They’re increasing patrols in neighborhoods which includes undercover officers. They’re also working with businesses in Hamden Plaza to improve lighting and alarms.
“Keeping security with patrolling I feel is something good,” said Riollano.
They’re also asking residents to keep their cars locked. In November, a car was stolen with a seven-month-old baby in the back seat. Police say the keys were in the ignition.
“Someone is running into the store or somebody is warming up their vehicle, and the cars are being stolen in seconds,” said Smith.
Often the suspects are teens, who are given a juvenile summons and released to parents or guardians. Smith says in some cases they are back out stealing cars within days.
When asked if changes to the legal system would help deter teens, he says it may be something to consider.
“That’s something that I think the chiefs of police association should meet with the legislature to work on how to improve these measures.”
University of New Haven criminal justice professor Mike Lawlor says teens involved in non-violent property crimes did face heavier punishment decades ago, and it wasn’t a solution back then.
“There’s no evidence that tougher laws have a deterrent effect with younger people,” said Lawlor.
While non-violent property crimes for teens don’t carry a pre-trial lockup penalty, the armed crimes do, giving prosecutors more options.
“If it’s a carjacking with a firearm it’s a completely different ball game than joyriding in a car that was left unlocked,” said Lawlor.
Police say to beware of your surroundings and don’t resist if approached during a robbery. They also say to take valuables and the keys out of cars to avoid thefts, and to lock the doors.