Connecticut Courts See Sharp Increase in Young People Arrested on Auto Theft Charges.,   Hugh McQuaid, August 9, 2023

The number of young people arrested on auto theft charges in Connecticut spiked dramatically during the first six months of 2023, according to statistics from the Judicial Branch, which reported more than twice the arrests made over the same period last year. 

Police arrested 604 minors on auto theft-related charges between January and June 30, a judicial report on juvenile court dockets found. Arrests during that period far outpaced the 269 made in the first six months of last year and nearly matched the total 628 young people charged during the entirety of 2022.

The numbers in the report represent arrests of minors, a statistic the Judicial Branch began specifically tracking in 2018. They do not directly reflect the number of cars stolen in Connecticut, nor do they represent the total number of auto theft-related arrests. General arrest statistics were not immediately available Wednesday, but typically, minors account for about one-third of car theft arrests in the state. 

This year’s increase follows two years of steady decline after youth car theft arrests jumped to 888 in 2020, at the height of the pandemic.

Ken Baron, associate director of UConn’s Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy, offered an initial assessment of the numbers included in the report in an email this week. Barone said the increase could be attributable in part to better reporting, a post-pandemic increase in arrest rates for most offenses, and a heightened police focus on car thefts.

“Many communities developed regional auto theft task forces to combat the rise in car thefts,” Barone wrote. “It is possible that this increased focus has contributed to a higher arrest rate.”

So far, this year’s arrests have largely been concentrated in Connecticut’s cities. New Haven experienced the highest number of arrests during the first six months of 2023 with 108, followed by New Britain with 56, Hartford with 52, and Waterbury with 35. 

Though it is too early to tell, Barone said the numbers may signal a shift from recent years when increases in auto thefts were concentrated in communities like Waterbury and Hartford-area suburbs. 

“New Haven was long the epicenter of auto thefts in CT. Over the last decade, the increase moved up the 91 corridor into the Hartford region,” Barone wrote. “I wonder if we are seeing a reverse of that trend.” Continue Full Article