Message to Newington Residents: Be Vigilant.
NEWINGTON- Last week, State Representative Gary Byron (R-27) along with Newington Police Chief Stephen Clark, Mayor Roy Zartarian and a representative from GEICO insurance company, David Johnson hosted a very informative ‘Public Safety Forum’ at the Lucy Robbins Welles Library for Newington residents.
The aim of the forum was to provide tips and strategies for Newington residents on how to protect themselves and their belongings from potential criminals who have been breaking into motor vehicles.
State Rep. Gary Byron, along with Chief Clark testified in the Judiciary Committee on proposed legislation last session (HB 5559) which would have strengthened the court system by having ‘repeat’ juvenile offenders referred to criminal court as adults. This would impose a stricter punishment to help to deter crime and could also help repeat juvenile offenders get the help they need within the corrections system – as opposed to being released to the streets time-and-time again.
“I want to thank everyone who came out for the forum. The message from all our panelists is that a vigilant and engaged community is the best way to combat these crimes,” said Rep. Byron. “Although, I am disappointment to see this proposed legislation die in the committee process, I will fully support any similar proposed legislation in the future.”
First, Chief Stephen Clark presented two home security camera videos of the recent break-ins/thefts as informative tools for the public to better understand the gravity of the (ongoing) situation.
The video footage detailed two different houses, on two separate nights where offenders entered properties as early as midnight to as late as 4:30 AM who manually broke into the vehicles that were already left unlocked.
Chief Clark suspects the getaway vehicle seen in the video clip was another stolen vehicle they were attempting to locate. Once in the vehicle, the perpetrators rummaged for anything of value (everything from money to registration information/paperwork for identity fraud) and keys. If the keys/key fob were located the vehicle was then stolen. Once finished with a vehicle they would move right on to the next house.
Chief Clark advised homeowners to (at a minimum) hit the lock on their key fobs when heading to bed. He also stressed the importance of closing garage doors and bringing in valuables and spare keys.
Some constituents in attendance asked what they should do if they happen to come upon an active intrusion. Chief Clark advised to not alert the offender of your presence but to call 911 instead. Alerting the burglar could result in an attack or their escape. Someone also asked if they could shoot the perpetrator, which the chief strongly advised against.
Geico Representative, and local business owner, David Johnson presented numbers from an insurance prospective. Johnson explained the severity of not properly locking a vehicle and stated that a victim would never be penalized for theft of items or a vehicle if they took proper precautions.
David Johnson also touched upon the value of neighborhoods. The increase of theft and break-ins devalues a neighborhood; therefore, increasing insurance premiums for those who live there.
According to crime data, Mayor Roy Zartarian, stated that boys starting as young as 12-14 are noted for having a higher rate of vehicle break-ins, while young men at the age of 18 have now graduated to full vehicle theft. Mayor Zartarian also touched upon neighborhood watch programs and suggested that the community strengthens its unity to do so. Being vigilant is half the battle.
This public safety forum is the eighth in a series of public forums Representative Byron has offered his constituents over the last four years.