Residents shared stories of having their cars burglarized or stolen and having packages taken from their doorsteps during a community meeting last week.
“Safety is the most important thing that a government can offer you,” said Amy Bourdon, who organized the forum at Viron Rondo Osteria on July 13 after hearing from multiple friends who’ve had their vehicles stolen. “It’s the top priority of the citizens of your town. … If a fundamental principle is starting to become a problem, then I think we need to push it to the forefront …”
Over 20 residents spoke at the forum. Bourdon hopes the meeting can be the start of monthly gatherings to discuss public safety issues, adding that residents should raise awareness of the importance of locking vehicles and not leaving valuables inside.
Bourdon said it’s also important for residents to stay involved in their cases. Obtaining a police report can aid in receiving insurance payouts and she is pushing residents to start sending the reports to their elected representatives.
“We can give traction to this topic by supplying legislators and committee members … factual information of what’s going on in our neighborhoods,” Bourdon said.
State Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, said contacting legislators can create pressure to address some of the legislation that he feels is responsible for an uptick in car crimes. A bill that raised the age that an individual can be charged as an adult to 18 and a new police accountability bill have contributed, he added.
“These occurrences are a direct result of the policies passed into law by our state legislature and I think we should repeal some of this legislation,” and improve upon others, said Sampson, whose district includes Cheshire. “I don’t want to see us just throwing teenagers in prison, but at the same time we have to restore some sense of law and order and justice.”
State Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, said her office is always open to residents with any issues. She regularly hears from those who have experienced auto thefts.
“I don't want that to stop people from reaching out to me — that’s extremely important for me to hear. … But the anecdotal evidence should be backed by hard data that we receive,” she said.
She said the legislature passed a bill last year to collect more data.
Linehan feels requiring that cases involving minors be adjudicated by the courts within 30 days and making sure police and the courts are aware of any open cases involving a juvenile would help. Both issues are being discussed by lawmakers.