Car break-ins and thefts, and a new chief in Darien Police’s 2019 year in review
One Apple MacBook, two card-filled wallets, one set of golf clubs, four pairs of sunglasses, and numerous amounts of cash.
No, this isn’t a new version of the 12 days of Christmas. It is a sampling of the various items stolen from mostly unlocked cars in Darien in 2019. Items from two cars alone totaled nearly $5,000, not including the two cars that were stolen with them inside.
In November, an Archer Lane resident said his 2014 Subaru Forester and 2012 Toyota Highlander were stolen from his driveway at some point during the overnight hours. The Forester was reported as having golf clubs valued at $3,000, $20 in cash, sunglasses valued at $100, paddle ball equipment valued at $300 and an E-ZPass Transponder valued at $50 inside the vehicle. The Highlander was reported as having five pairs of sunglasses, with a total value of $1,200, $25 in cash, clothing, and an E-ZPass Transponder valued at $50.
In 2019, as of Dec. 20, the total number of car break-ins was 126 — a marginal improvement over the 139 in 2018.
In the fall, 15 cars were broken into in one night, Darien Police reported — nine in the Avalon neighborhood alone. Another car was stolen. In all of the incidents, the vehicle had been burglarized at some time during the preceding overnight hours and vehicles had been left unlocked. The burglaries were evident due to the disturbance of the glove box/center console. Some had nothing stolen, some had a laptop, a checkbook or cash. The stolen car had $3,000 in golf clubs and a $1,000 phone.
Stolen cars tied with 2018 at a total of 29. At least seven, in a quick audit of police reports, were unlocked, including a Porsche, a Honda, and a Mercedes.
The highest priced non-automotive related item stolen in Darien in 2019 was a Rolex left with a bag by the paddle courts at Weed Beach while its owner played. It was gone by the time she returned.
The battle against narcotics in Darien continued just as the town was ringing in the new year.
On New Year’s Eve, a subsequent search of two out-of-town residents accused of stealing a phone from Darien’s Verizon store, allegedly revealed a bundle of packaged heroin, a pipe used for smoking crack-cocaine, and a second hypodermic needle capped. One was charged with fifth-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit fifth-degree larceny, possession of narcotics and interfering with an officer. The other was charged with fifth-degree larceny, drug paraphernalia and possession of narcotics.
In June, both the driver and passenger in a 2014 Toyota Corolla driving through Darien were arrested for possession of narcotics after a traffic stop for no front license plate, according to police.
The driver was arrested for possession of narcotics, improper use of marker plate, operation of an unregistered motor vehicle and failure to properly display plates. The passenger was held on a bench warrant and possession of narcotics.
In November, a Darien man was arrested for narcotics possession, dealing, owning high capacity magazines and operating a drug factory in a home that he shared with minor children after an extensive investigation, according to Darien Police.
After his arrest, police said, upon a search of his residence, they found a small quantity of cocaine as well as tools indicative of cocaine sales, including baggies, scales, and a cocaine press. Detectives also said they located approximately $16,000 in cash.
Also, a shotgun and two rifles were found unloaded and unsecured on the floor of the man’s room, according to police. One of the rifles was later determined to be illegal based on its modifications, police said. A large amount of unsecured ammunition for all three firearms was also seized, police said, as well as numerous illegal high capacity magazines.
In August, in a case of non-updated stolen car information, Darien police pulled their guns on New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman as he was exiting a gas station in town on a Friday morning. Cashman had reported his Jeep Wrangler stolen the previous weekend from his Rowayton home. It was recovered and returned to Cashman a few days later in New York, but it was never removed from the police stolen vehicle list.
Cashman, 52, was on his way to the Norwalk Police Department the day of the incident to have the vehicle processed for evidence when he was stopped.
The case drew national coverage, and Darien Police released the video of the incident, which revealed a polite interaction between Cashman and the officers involved. In the wake of the incident, Cashman told The Darien Times he was comforted — not angered — by police drawing their guns on him last week when he was mistaken for a car thief.
Cashman said he exited the vehicle slowly, “without rash movement,” with his hands raised as the officers instructed him to do. He walked backward while one Darien police officer had his gun out and others had their hands on their weapons.
“They were very professional,” he said.
“Once they got my ID, and searched my car, they realized,” Cashman said.
Cashman described the widely reported incident as a case of miscommunication between law enforcement agencies.
“Ultimately, if I was a Darien resident, I’d feel good about being protected,” Cashman said. “If you are stopped, just do what what you are told. It will all work out. Let them complete the job they are doing. It’s about public safety.”
Darien Police Chief Don Anderson told The Darien Times that as far as he was concerned, Darien Police did everything by the proper procedure.
Mail and package fraud continued in Darien in 2019. In December, a quick-thinking Fed Ex driver deterred a package fraud in town. A resident told police as he exited his home, a FedEx driver at the end of his driveway alerted him to a suspicious person.
The FedEx driver said the suspicious person had just attempted to retrieve a package from 25 Edmond Street that didn’t belong to him. The resident knew the home was unoccupied. The male then walked across an adjacent property and entered a vehicle on Homestead Road. The vehicle, described as a black Toyota sedan, left the area.
It was against policy for FedEx to leave the package without identification and signature, so it was not delivered. As the driver was returning to his truck, a black male approached him and asked him for the package. When the FedEx driver asked for identification, the male walked away. It was determined that the box contained an Apple iPhone.
In September, Darien Police rescued a kayaker off Long Neck Point after he capsized in rough water and his father, also kayaking, couldn’t reach him.
According to Darien Police, a father and his adult son were kayaking in the area of Long Neck Point in fairly rough seas with a water temperature of 69 degrees Fahrenheit.
The father lost sight of the son and couldn’t reach him by cell phone, at which point he called this agency. The police boat, Darien 127, manned by Officer James Martin and Officer Lou Gannon, responded.
The officers quickly located the son unharmed and took him aboard. It was determined that the son’s kayak had capsized and the son was in the water for a period of time. Darien 127 took the kayaker back to shore where he was reunited with his father.
In September, Darien Police responded to a swastika drawn in crayon on a window at Middlesex Middle School. Further incidents followed but the police told The Darien Times the school district had taken on the investigation.
A community meeting was held in December among town leaders, and Darien Police Chief Donald Anderson participated.
“Probing incidents of this type are clearly best handled by all of us working together; my takeaway is that we are doing just that and we will continue to do so,” he added.
“The ‘why’ these specific incidents occurred are the reasons most difficult to identify. It’s not always easy; but then again nothing worthwhile ever is. The Police Department, as always, stands ready to do our part,” Anderson said.
New chief, promotions, change in commission leadership
In other 2019 Darien Police news, Chief Donald Anderson was sworn in as Darien’s 11th police chief in September. Anderson replaced retiring Chief Ray Osborne after 35 years on the force and two as the chief.
Anderson, a member of the Darien Police Department since 1983, is the son of the late Bruce M. Anderson, who also served as Darien’s chief of police from February 19, 1988 to July 3, 1993. He was most recently a captain before being named chief.
In May, Chief Osborne and the Darien Police Commission announced the promotion of Lt. Jeremiah P. Marron Jr. to the rank of captain.
Marron is a 23-year veteran of the department. Graduating from the Connecticut Police Academy in 1996, Marron has served the department with distinction in both the detective division and field services as both an officer and supervisor. He most recently served as the administrative lieutenant.
Also in May 2019, Sgt. Nick Aranzullo was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Lt. Aranzullo started with the department in 2005. In 2009, Lt. Aranzullo assisted with the implementation of the K-9 program, ultimately forming the department’s first K-9 unit with K-9 partner “Zulu.” Lt. Aranzullo served in the Detective Bureau and was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2017.
In September, Chief Anderson announced three more promotions — Youth Detective James Palmieri to the rank of sergeant, Field Services Sergeant Alison Hudyma to the rank of lieutenant and Training Lieutenant Robert Shreders to rank of captain.
Hudyma’s promotion made her the first female lieutenant in the Darien Police Department’s history.
Darien resident Paul Johnson, who served on the Police Commission for 32 years, stepped down this year.
Johnson, now 79, served 12 years as chairman.
During his time on the commission, he served under six police chiefs: John Jordan, Bruce Anderson, Hugh McManus, Duane Lovello, Ray Osborne and current Chief Anderson, who is Bruce’s son.
A father of two and grandfather of two, Johnson is an attorney with Curtis, Brinckerhoff and Barrett in Stamford.