Westport Police chief asks residents to be more vigilant amid increase in car thefts

Photo of Serenity Bishop
File photo of a Westport police car.

File photo of a Westport police car.

Contributed photo /

WESTPORT — More thefts from motor vehicles and stolen cars have been reported in town this year compared to last year, prompting the police department to remind residents how to protect themselves and their property.

As of Dec. 14, Westport Police have investigated 114 larcenies from motor vehicles this year compared to 83 larcenies from motor vehicles in 2020. The police department has also investigated 92 reports of stolen cars this year compared to 58 reports of stolen cars last year.

Crime rates have continued to increase in Connecticut over the last year with a significant number of car thefts and burglaries being reported throughout the state.

Westport Police Chief, Foti Koskinas, said that while crime rates in Westport are generally low, there are a number of things residents should be aware of and should take into consideration including locking their car doors, closing their garages, being more vigilant as well as communicating with the police.

“There are some major concerns when it comes to crime in Westport, but crime overall is not significantly up,” Koskinas said. “What is up is our motor vehicle theft and our stolen cars. That has created a major issue.”

Koskinas spoke about the increase in car thefts during a meeting with First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker and Deputy Chief Ryan Paulsson, which was hosted by Westport Moms.

The police chief said that he and the police department understand the concern residents have when they think about people from out of town going into their driveways and entering their vehicles during the night — a time when people want to feel the most secure.

“In total transparency, there’s only been a few incidents where the bad guys, the suspects, have got into homes and that is extremely concerning,” he said. “But for the size of our town, for the amount of households that we have and the amount of incidents that have happen that’s a very small number.”

He said one or two is still “extremely alarming.”

The police department said it arrested juvenille suspects in one of these incidents and the other case is still open and active.

“It’s very concerning because who is going to be next? Is there going to be a next? At what level are they going to take it?” he added.

Koskinas said that while Westport is one of the safest communities along the shoreline, the location of the town is important when looking at crime, including its proximity to the highway, train stations, big cities like New York and Boston, as well as inner cities like Bridgeport and Norwalk. Westport residents make themselves easy targets when they don’t lock their car doors.

He said there are residents who have had their cars entered or stolen several times and have still not started locking their doors.

“If we make ourselves victims, there’s always a chance they’ll come back,” he said. “They go back to areas that they have been successful in.”

Unlocked cars, keys left in the car and crews looking for opportunities to steal gifts, credit cards or the car itself are the three main issues the department is dealing with concerning vehicle thefts. Koskinas said.

In an effort to reduce the amount of car thefts in Westport and the state at large, Westport joined a task force called Operation Wingspan, a $5 million collaboration between the FBI and Bridgeport, Fairfield, Westport, Monroe, Trumbull, Stratford and Newtown police departments. In a two-month period, the task force, recovered 84 stolen vehicles.

Koskinas said altogether the task force has recovered about 120 cars. They have also made more than 80 adult arrest and about 40 juvenile arrests.

He said while the task force has had a significant impact, the juvenile cases have created issues because the juvenile justice system is being reworked.

“It’s sort of a revolving door” when it comes to juveniles, he said.

“We are not in favor of detention for juveniles,” Koskinas said. “That’s not the place for reform, but there also needs to be consequences when its not the first, second or third offender anymore.”

Koskinas said the police department is figuring out if these offenders are coming from inner cities to areas where residents are less likely to lock their cars.

Westport has increased its nightly patrols, but they need the help of residents by locking their doors and being vigilant. Koskinas said that while the police department focuses on enforcement, they are asking residents to be good witnesses by recording as much as they can, not engaging and getting any information to the police.

Koskinas spoke about the increase in car theft during a meeting with First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker and Deputy Chief Ryan Paulsson. The meeting was hosted by Westport Moms.