Motor vehicle burglaries in Darien nearly double in a year

A Darien police car.

A Darien police car.

Staff / Hearst Connecticut Media

DARIEN — Motor vehicle burglaries nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020 in town, according to statistics from the Darien Police Department.

Police attribute the increase to Darien’s reputation for having unlocked cars. Car burglaries increased from 109 in 2019 to 201 in 2020.

Capt. Jeremiah Marron said that, over the last decade, Darien residents have “unfortunately become well-known for leaving cars unlocked with the keys or key fobs inside.”

Forty-eight motor vehicles were stolen in 2020 compared to 31 in 2019. Other types of burglaries went down, from 25 in 2019 to 23 in 2020. Often, Darien’s motor vehicle burglaries happened overnight in one neighborhood.

The increase, and a recent car theft that nearly resulted in a head-on collision with a police cruiser, led to a public plea from Darien Police Chief Donald Anderson urging residents to take heed of his warning to keep cars locked.

The unlocked Ford Explorer with the keys inside was stolen from a Darien resident in April at around 5 a.m. Though police spotted the suspect, the chase was called off for safety reasons. The vehicle was later recovered.

“So, what will it take? It will simply take a second to ensure that your vehicle is properly locked with all of your valuables secured. It is seemingly a very easy request when measured up against what could occur. I am quite reasonably apprehensive that any one of these preventable incidents could again put our officers, our residents or any member of the public in imminent or grave danger,” Anderson said.

Numerous car burglaries were reported by police, including nearly 20 in July alone. Ten break-ins were reported in 24 hours, and an unlocked Mercedes with the keys in was stolen on the same night as several other car burglaries in June.

On Dec. 7, at around 6 p.m., officers responded to BMW of Darien on report of a stolen car. A customer had dropped off a 2019 BMW X5 at the dealership for service at approximately 11 a.m., leaving the keys inside. When dealership staff went to retrieve the vehicle, police said it was missing. Surveillance footage showed an individual, unknown to dealership staff, enter the vehicle and drive it away at 11:30 a.m., police said.

Several more cars were burglarized from Dec. 9 through Dec. 13, with unlocked vehicles rummaged through, police said.

Marron said car burglary and auto theft crimes are closely related and are being perpetrated almost predominantly by juveniles.

He said changes in legislation regarding crimes committed by juveniles “in Connecticut have undoubtedly hamstrung policing efforts.”

“These juveniles suspects are very aware that they face little to no consequence for committing these crimes and often are repeat offenders,” he said.

Marron cited this change as “one of the reasons the rate of these crimes has increased over the last year in our area.”

He said suspects rummage through unlocked cars looking for valuables, but ultimately seeking the vehicle keys or key fobs.

“They will go driveway to driveway until almost inevitably they find a vehicle with the keys in it and they’re off,” Marron said. “... As always, we will continue our proactive efforts in approaching this unfortunate but avoidable problem.”

Police continue to urge residents to keep all of their car doors locked.