Police departments share info on stolen car cases
Forensic DNA links suspects to thefts in multiple towns.
Ridgefield police are sharing information on a string of car thefts — five so far this year, in addition to 10 incidents where cars were broken into and rummaged through — with surrounding towns who have experienced similar crimes.
Police Capt. Jeff Kreitz said that the Ridgefield Police Department is in regular contact with other agencies throughout the state, and that the cooperation is not a task force.
“There’s regular detective meetings monthly throughout Fairfield County,” he said on July 17. Those meetings are not solely focused on the car thefts throughout Fairfield County, he explained, but also discuss other crimes.
Police have linked the car thefts and break-ins in town to a group of Waterbury thieves. The gang’s typical behavior is to steal cars in the dead of night which are left unlocked with the keys inside. The group will also often steal valuables — often cash or credit cards — from other vehicles, police say.
In many cases, the car theft is not reported to police until the following morning, when victims wake up to find their car missing.
Monroe Police Chief John Salvatore told The Press that his department collected DNA from at least one suspect who they believe may be connected to the string of car thefts.
In other cases, he said, DNA has been used to link thefts in Monroe to similar crimes committed in other communities
While Salvatore said he could not recall if DNA connected car thefts in Monroe to Ridgefield, he confirmed that the modus operandi — or MO — of the thefts in Monroe closely resembled those in Ridgefield.
“Most of the incidents in these towns, they’re very similar,” Salvatore said. “A high percentage of the entries are due to the fact that they’re unlocked cars.”
He speculated that the thefts are the work of more than one group, since they seem to occur over a wide swath of towns.
“Young males,” Salvatore said, are beginning to realize that unlocked cars are “easy prey” for the picking.
Kreitz said Ridgefield police have swabbed cars recovered from the thieves.
“We have taken DNA swabs from the vehicles,” he said.
The forensic material is often not visible to the naked eye, Kreitz said, and is taken from areas the suspect likely touched during the theft, such as a car door handle.
He explained that the process was made difficult by the number of people who typically use a car.
The samples taken from Ridgefield cars have not yet had a match from the state’s forensic laboratory, which maintains a database of DNA samples from people convicted of felony crimes, Kreitz said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Ridgefield police at 203-438-6531.