Car burglaries hit Wooster

Wooster Square, widely considered one of New Haven’s safest neighborhoods, has recently seen a crime wave.

The neighborhood has suffered from a significant rise in car break-ins over the last week, organizers of the Wooster Square block watch said Friday. Four break-ins occurred in the area Thursday night alone. And Douglas Hausladen ’04, vice chairman of the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team said there were six car burglaries in the downtown region Monday and Tuesday.

New Haven Police Lt. Rebecca Sweeney-Burns wrote in an e-mail to Wooster Square residents last week that she is dispatching an officer for neighborhood night patrol in hopes of catching the perpetrators. She warned that Wooster Square residents should not leave anything in their cars — including GPS systems, cell phones, cords, suction cups and devices that attach electronics to the dashboard.

Hausladen said GPS units had been a target for break-ins over the past three years and his team continually reminds residents to remove the systems at night.

“Cars are frequently broken into just at the hint of an electronic device,” block watch member Karri Brady said in an e-mail.

Brady said the neighborhood generally expects the number of break-ins to increase during weekends, when visitors looking for a safe-looking neighborhood park in Wooster Square and do not take precautions.

Brady added that the police had told her these “smash and grab” crimes targeted GPS devices that are easy to steal and can be quickly sold for cash. She said even a suction cup mark on the windshield could indicate an electronic device to burglars.

“We’re living in desperate times,” Brady said.

She and Hauslauden added that the crimes suggest that a person or group may be committing multiple crimes.

Hausladen also said that although the police had not released any specific tactics, police had told him last Thursday that the department was “doing something special” to catch the perpetrator or perpetrators. Sweeney-Burns could not be reached for comment Monday.

This Wednesday’s meeting of the Wooster Square block watch will include a discussion with Chief Administrative Officer Robert Smuts ’01.

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