Unlocked cars in Darien: Insurers urge owners and drivers to take precautions

This week's editorial cartoon by Douglas Smith.
This week's editorial cartoon by Douglas Smith.

With unlocked motor vehicle break-ins and thefts on the rise, so must insurance claims.

Local and national car insurance companies say claims will not be specifically impacted by unlocked car doors or keys left in the vehicle. Some say they handle claims on a case by case basis, and others say they do not take it into account at all.

However, many say they are urging customers to lock doors and not leave keys inside.

Locally, Ryan Garrity of Brown Thayer Shedd Insurance Agency in Darien, said the firm does not advise leaving homes or cars unlocked, “however, those claims are covered in full without question.”

Kevin Walker of Geico said “Comprehensive coverage covers perils, such as vandalism, malicious mischief, theft of the entire vehicle and more. We handle each claim on its individual merits.”

However, he provided car theft warnings that Geico provides its customers. Those include keep your vehicle locked at all times, even while driving; never leave your keys in your car and close all the windows and sunroof; and never leave your car running and unattended.

A representative from Allstate told The Darien Times that neither an unlocked car or keys in it would affect how they would handle a claim.

Darien continues to experience an increase in overnight-hour burglaries of unlocked motor vehicles. This trend is not isolated to Darien, as the majority of towns and cities in Fairfield County and Connecticut continue to experience these incidents at increasing rates.

Many of these crimes are perpetrated by juvenile offenders who, when caught, inform police officers that it is common knowledge that towns, like Darien, are target-rich environments.

Why is Darien target rich, according to the offenders?

“I’ve had suspects relay to me personally that it’s common knowledge that Darien has a tendency to have a large amount unsecured vehicles on any given night,” said Detective James Palmieri.


A more recent trend in Fairfield County is the occurrence of residential burglaries (burglary involves unlawful entry) committed in conjunction with the ongoing motor vehicle burglaries. This has occurred twice in Darien in January.

Darien Police continue to encourage residents to lock their doors.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported in September that even with the slight increases in the last few years, the national vehicle theft problem today is at levels not seen since 1967.

“Enhancements in vehicle security and manufacturing are having a positive impact, but complacency can undermine their success. Thousands of vehicles continue to be stolen each year because owners leave their keys or fobs in the vehicles, and that invites theft,” according to the bureau.