A recent rise in the number of stolen cars and thefts from cars reported in southwestern Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut have led to a renewed partnership between law enforcement in both states, and local police are reminding residents to lock up their valuables to avoid becoming a victim.
Hopkinton police on Thursday issued a warning to residents in their community through Facebook and other social media following a sudden rash of incidents that were reported the night before. Police Capt. Mark Carrier said the department received approximately a half-dozen complaints from residents in rural sections of the community reporting that their cars had been gone through, while also recovering a stolen car that was taken from a Charlestown resident a day before and was abandoned.
“It was the same M.O. we had seen with the incidents that were reported over the summer,” Carrier said. “All of the cars entered were left unlocked, and those that were taken had a key or key fob that was left inside.”
The police said the crimes likely involve several individuals working as part of an organized group. Carrier said law enforcement believes the individuals likely came from a city in Connecticut.
The case remains under investigation, Carrier said, and additional details were not released.
In the past couple weeks, officials reported that similar complaints have also been logged in Charlestown, South Kingstown, Jamestown and Stonington. Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said Monday his department has not seen any spike in recent weeks.
The recent rise in reported thefts comes after a lull following two arrests made in October. Westerly officers charged two teenagers, ages 16 and 17, each from the greater Hartford area, after interrupting them in the process of trying to steal several cars. Westerly police said at the time they suspected the two may have been working as part of a ring involved in thefts throughout the region in late spring and summer as well.
That case remains under investigation, the police said this week.
Prior to that, Stonington police had reported wide-ranging thefts reported in May and June, and large groups of thefts occurred periodically around the region throughout the summer months.
In all cases, the police said victims had left their cars unlocked, which provided fast and easy access for the culprits. Items taken from cars included purses and wallets, credit cards, money, electronics, jewelry and other items of value.
Carrier said due to the nature and timing of these thefts, the department is relying heavily on citizens to be observant and report any suspicious activity. In addition, he said residents should take added caution and double-check to make sure valuables are removed and secured, and that the car is locked.
“The best way to protect yourself is to keep your belongings secure and out of range, be alert and report anything that doesn’t seem right,” Carrier said.