Stamford Advocate

Police: Amid series of CT carjacking­s, avoid being ‘easy target’

- By Tara O'Neill

Amid a bump in Connecticu­t carjacking­s — including three early Friday in Bridgeport — officials are warning drivers to take precaution­s, especially when filling up at gas stations.

In a span of about three hours overnight Friday, three carjacking­s were reported in Bridgeport. In one of the incidents, a victim was shot in the hand, according to a city official.

Scott Appleby, the city’s director of emergency communicat­ions and emergency management, said drivers can take several measures to avoid becoming the target of a carjacking.

“Be aware of your surroundin­gs at all times while in your vehicle,” Appleby said. “Continuous­ly check your side and rear mirrors for any suspicious persons or vehicle.”

When walking to a vehicle, Appleby said, drivers should have keys in hand to press the panic button if needed.

“Most perpetrato­rs want an easy target and want to avoid an audience,” he said.

The Bridgeport carjacking­s were the latest of a series of similar incidents that occurred statewide in the past week.

Last weekend at a New Britain gas station, police said a woman fought off the alleged suspect in the attempted carjacking.

On Monday afternoon, Manchester police said a car thief stole a 2022 Lexus RX 350 from the parking lot of Saint Bridget Church and School with a toddler in the backseat. Police said the thief left the 1-year-old child, who was found safe and secured in a car seat, on the side of a nearby road.

Just after midnight Wednesday

in Woodbridge, a resident coming home from work was approached by an individual who police said showed a gun and stole the victim’s vehicle and other items.

Around the same time, a woman’s car — with $2,000 in cash inside — was stolen as she pumped gas in Southingto­n, police said.

While some of the incidents have been captured on surveillan­ce video, police said no arrests have been made.

Southingto­n Police Lt. Keith Egan said drivers should try to avoid parking in low-lit areas, near large vehicles, fences or foliage.

“Get in the habit of putting items you want hidden in the trunk of your car before you arrive at your destinatio­n,” he said. “Thieves will linger in busy parking lots looking for you to stash your valuable items.”

Appleby said leaving keys inside a vehicle makes you an easy target, whether your vehicle is being filled with gas or parked somewhere overnight. He said personal and valuable items should be removed from vehicles or put somewhere out of sight before arriving at your destinatio­n.

Whether driving, parked or leaving a car somewhere briefly, Appleby said the doors should always be locked and windows rolled up.

Anyone who sees an incident is urged to call police immediatel­y. Callers will be asked to provide a location, descriptio­n of the suspect or suspect vehicle and direction of travel. Police say motorists should never try to confront a carjacking or car theft suspect on their own.

“If you are confronted with a carjacking, remember: We can replace property. We cannot replace lives, so cooperate,” Appleby said.

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