In his 38 years of police work, Wolcott Police Chief Edward Stephens says he’s surprised that he still has to remind people to lock their car doors.
“If they’re locked they’ll move onto another car and they’ll move onto another house,” said Stephens.
More than a dozen people found that out the hard way this weekend. Police said 13 people reported that someone had entered their cars, half of those said something valuable was stolen out of their vehicles, and one woman’s car was stolen after she left a spare set of keys in her glove compartment.
Wallets and garage door openers were among the items reported stolen. Karen McNamara’s neighbor on Carriage Hill Road woke up to find both of her garage doors opened and her opener lying on the ground.
“That’s scary,” said McNamara. “It bothers me because I always felt that we were very safe here.”
“Someone hits that button and they walk right into your garage while you’re in the house sleeping, you know, you don’t even know it,” Stephens pointed out.
“I’m shocked because nothing ever happens in this neighborhood. It’s usually pretty quiet. I’m shocked,” Gary Russeau, who also lives on Carriage Hill Road.
Katie Merriam thought her car was locked.
“Usually I always do lock my car and it was the one time I didn’t lock it,” said Merrium.
Thieves found her spare set of keys in the glove compartment. Her car was stolen from Beach Road Sunday morning. Police found it in Bristol on Monday.
“Just the thought of what was in the car. I just felt very very violated,” said Marrium.
Her neighbor’s surveillance camera caught the theft.
“It’s very unfortunate that it’s coming down to the main roads. Usually it’s singled out to the neighborhoods where there’s not a lot of lighting,” said. Dennis O’Connor. “It used to be that you didn’t have to lock your car at night in this neighborhood.”
Wolcott Police are using surveillance footage gathered from homes through the RING app Neighbors to identify the suspects.
According to Stephens, this partnership has helped the town solve six burglaries since it started in February. Stephens said surveillance cameras also captured the culprits activities in Bristol which should help them identify the suspects quickly. However, what happens to them after they’re arrested may surprise you.
Stephens said often the culprits are not only young, but repeat offenders who thanks to their age and the legal system, don’t face much in the way of consequences.
“Nothing happens to the juveniles. They tell us nothing’s going to happen to us when we arrest them,” said Stephens. “It is a non-violent crime. A larceny. That’s how the courts handle them.”
With their hands tied by the court system, Stephens is urging residents to lock their doors.
“It’s very very frustrating that this goes on and on over and over,” said Stephens.
Now left to fix her car and replace her children’s two missing car seats, Merriam thinks the suspects, no matter their age, deserve to go to jail.
“A slap on the wrist is not enough. It’s like they really don’t how much they’re disrupting people’s lives,” said Merrium.