Editorial: Public Safety The First Priority

Editorial: Public Safety The First Priority

It is a simple message but one that can prevent a tremendous headache and sometimes even heartache.

Lock your car doors at night. Lock your car doors each and every time you exit your vehicle, even if you’re just popping into a store or a friend’s house for a few minutes. When possible, make sure to remove all valuables from your vehicle. If nothing else, ensure that those valuables aren’t easily seen by someone passing by, who may be on the lookout for an easy “smash and grab.”

It remains true that most car burglaries are crimes of opportunity. The criminals involved are looking for an easy “score” and don’t want to go through the hassle of breaking into a locked car if an open one is nearby. And why break into a car that may or may not have anything worth stealing if another car presents the “goods” right out in the open, as if on the shelf of a retail shop, available to anyone in the mood to browse?

It still remains true that the best way to prevent a crime of opportunity is to deny that opportunity.

However, it’s clear that something more is happening, not just in Cheshire, but all around Connecticut, where car thefts and burglaries have been on the uptick for some time now. There is barely a municipality that isn’t reporting a rise in such crimes, and Cheshire is no different. According to the Cheshire Police Department, between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021, there have been 53 motor vehicle thefts, 94 reports of thefts from a motor vehicle, and 107 reports of tampering with a motor vehicle. This is in line with what’s been reported around the state, and it’s likely why residents felt the need to gather last week at Viron Rondo Osteria to discuss their own experiences when it comes to burglaries.

This is where the state legislature must step in. There is, within American politics, an age-old battle over exactly how much government intervention is warranted when it comes to daily life, yet there is little debate that safety is one of the paramount responsibilities of government officials. When that safety is threatened, it is the duty of representatives to ensure that everything possible is done to address the situation.

Car burglaries are always going to be an issue. Laws will never eradicate crime. And sometimes there is little that can be done to stop criminals when they’ve put their minds to something. But in this circumstance, it seems there is at least some consensus that Hartford can help address today’s current problems.

We agree, in part, with Sen. Rob Sampson, who has raised questions about recent legislation and whether the unintended consequences of the laws are to send the wrong signal to juveniles, who seem to account for the bulk of car thefts and break-ins, that repercussions for such actions will not be as severe as they were in the past. We also agree with Rep. Liz Linehan, who mentioned her desire to see cases involving juveniles adjudicated quickly and that all law enforcement are made aware when cases remain open regarding certain juvenile suspects. Such steps might help to put some teeth in the enforcement of the law.

Of course, the trick is always balance. While discouraging such conduct, no one wants to see Connecticut’s jails suddenly experience an influx of teenagers who made a mistake, albeit a serious one. We don’t want to take young men and women who engage in bad behavior and severely impact their future lives. Much of recent legislation has been in the name of rethinking our legal priorities and those efforts shouldn’t be abandoned.

However, the number-one priority of Connecticut’s leaders must be to provide as much safety as possible for its citizens. Yes, each person should do his or her own best to limit the chance of being a victim, but with incidents rising all over the state, it’s time for something more to be done.

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