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CT residents share concerns about break-ins and thefts

Lawmakers hosted the juvenile crime forum, where people described incidents in neighborhoods across the state that were targeted by thieves.

CHESHIRE, Conn. — Concerned residents in Connecticut are asking for something to be done to address car break-ins and thefts.

People voiced some of their concerns at a forum on juvenile crime at Cheshire High School on Monday. Many described incidents in towns and cities across the state, where neighborhoods were targeted by thieves.

"We could see these three criminals descend onto our property, come up our driveway, hit the cars in the driveway, and then proceed into the garage and then rip through my minivan that was in the garage... while we were all home and sleeping," Melinda Smith, of Glastonbury told FOX61.

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Smith described the incident as an invasion of privacy, but as a mom of three teenage boys, she was relieved it hadn't escalated.

"Had they gotten up to head back into the garage to grab their cellphone or something like that, what would've happened? If they had encountered these criminals in my garage? Might they have been shot at, would a fight have ensued?"

It's a concern Jason Zandri shares several towns away in Wallingford. Cars in his neighborhood were broken into by thieves he said were rather brazen.

"When the motion sensor lights came on, the kids didn't even flinch," he said. "It wasn't like somebody's coming, they just kept moving like, 'oh great now I have more light to work,' and they just continued checking all the handles on the cars in the driveway and we had three cars outside at the time."

He was among those asking questions about what is being done to address the issue.

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Cheshire's police chief Neil Dryfe said two officers from the department have recently joined Southington's auto theft task force, and there were zero break-ins in the month of October.

He said legislative change would also help. The focus should be on stopping repeat offenders and those who are violent, according to Dryfe.

"We're talking about kids who are riding around in stolen cars with guns. It's not uncommon these days to have a stolen car recovered and find evidence of gunshots, you either find shell casings inside the car or the car itself has bullet holes in it," Dryfe said.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have spoken up about proposals to address the issue.

Republican state representatives Craig Fishbein and Lezlye Zupkus, who hosted the forum, said among the reforms they want to see are expedited arraignments for juveniles arrested for felonies and required family support interventions for arraignments at juvenile court.

Gov. Ned Lamont has proposed putting an emphasis on community policing and putting teens in secure group facilities instead of prison.

The next forum is planned for Wednesday at Bristol Public Library.

RELATED: Lamont, Waterbury mayor address juvenile crimes

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at gmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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