public safety

Republicans Call For Tougher Penalties For Car Thefts, Hit-And-Runs

Republican lawmakers are renewing their call to increase consequences for repeat youth offenders and they are hoping to find bipartisan support.

Republicans say these are not victimless crimes and they want to make sure something is done, including more support for victim services.

“We were left as roadkill on the side of the road,” John Rasimas said. 

Raismas and his wife Kathy were pulling out of a gas station on their motorcycle when they were hit by a car being driven by someone underage.

“My poor wife Kathy lost her leg,” Rasimas said. 

Raismas says the driver served six months.

“This past Monday, Jan. 31 this young boy -- again I’m not going to call him a man -- he was released,” he said.  “Changes need to be made to the system and they need to be made now.”

Sandy Kraus wasn’t physically injured but she’s still without a vehicle.

“I’ve had two cars stolen out of my driveway,” Kraus said. 

The first car was involved in multiple robberies and was ultimately in an accident with a Waterbury police car. She got a new car and had it for 10 weeks before it was stolen too.

“It was locked. My house was locked. They broke into the house. Stole my pocketbook. Used my credit cards, used my car in multiple thefts,” she said. 

She says there seems to be a misunderstanding about what it’s like to be a victim of these crimes.

“What’s always said to me is 'it’s just property. Your insurance company will make you whole again.' While I want to explain to you all that that is not the case,” Kraus said. 

“It’s been five months since I’ve had the privilege of driving a car because the airbags are on backorder,” she added. 

Republicans want enhanced penalties for car thefts and more support for victims.

“Connecticut residents deserve to feel safe within their state and their communities,” Rep. Craig Fishbein said. 

Fishbein says there need to be harsher penalties for repeat offenders.

“Public safety should not be a partisan issue. It’s not red or blue, it’s red, white, and blue,” Fishbein said.  

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont says he’s open to addressing the issue.

“We’re going to find reasonable common ground to get something done,” Lamont said. 

Crime and police accountability are expected to be issues in the upcoming election, but it's unclear if there’s enough bipartisan support to get something done during the legislative session that starts Feb. 9.

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