Tag Archives: Carjacking

Auto Theft Audience Applauds Police, Demands Legislative Action

Westporters respect, admire, even love their police department.

Westporters hate laws that hamper law enforcement, attract criminals, and allow juvenile car thieves to return here again and again, sometimes even taunting officers.

Both themes emerged strongly last night, at a Town Hall forum with the Westport Police command staff, a representative of the Bridgeport Auto Theft Task Force, and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker.

The event was scheduled in the wake of a Bayberry Lane carjacking Sunday afternoon. Two people were arrested within 72 hours — but the incident highlighted the ongoing problem of auto thefts.

The panel at last night’s forum (from right): 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, Westport Police command staff David Farrell, Ryan Paulsson, David Wolf, Anthony Prezioso, Jillian Cabana, and Bridgeport Auto Theft Task force officer David Scinto. Not pictured: Eric Woods. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Police Chief Foti Koskinas and his top aides told the crowd of over 150 — including his counterparts from neighboring towns, and several TV crews — that several factors contribute to the thefts, which so far this year number 50.

One is the number of expensive cars owned by Westporters. Unfortunately — despite repeated warnings — residents continue to leave their cars unlocked, with the keys in the ignition or fobs inside, and valuables in plain sight.

One of the 2 BMWs driven by the pair to the Bayberry Lane carjacking had been stolen the night before on Church Lane. A resident left his car running, while he went into a restaurant to pick up a takeout order.

Residents can take precautions to make it harder for thieves to spot and steal vehicles, Koskinas and the officers noted.

But another element in the rash of thefts stems from laws passed several years ago by state legislators, severely limiting consequences for juvenile offenders. They know exactly how quickly they can be released; how hard it is for police to find out if they’ve committed prior crimes; how insignificantly they’ll be punished; even how constrained officers now are to give chase following a property crime.

(The carjacking was different– it was a crime against a person, as the driver was still in his vehicle. However, police must still consider many factors like traffic, weather and road conditions when giving chase — things that people in stolen cars never consider.)

Two people confront a car owner in his garage on Sunday.

Koskinas and his department received several strong rounds of applause, with most speakers beginning their remarks by thanking them for all they do despite the challenging circumstances.

But applause was even more sustained for speakers who demanded that the General Assembly revisit, and revise, legislation that hamstrings police at many levels of their work, particularly with juvenile offenders.

Police are also impacted by a “Police Accountability Law,” which make them more responsible for decisions made in the heat of the moment, including during a crime and while trying to apprehend a criminal.

“We are not inept,” Lieutenant Anthony Prezioso said. “But criminals know what we can and cannot do. They know what lines to cross, and what the system offers them at their age. They flaunt it.”

“This is not a partisan issue. It’s a safety issue,” said Westport Representative Town Meeting member Jimmy Izzo.

Though different municipalities have different priorities, Koskinas noted that car thefts have ramifications beyond taking property, and violating trust. Stolen cars are often used in other crimes, including burglaries, robberies, drug deals and drive-by shootings, in cities like Bridgeport, Waterbury, Hartford, even Newark.

The juvenile justice system works for “98 or 99%” of youths arrested, Prezioso said. He supports the move toward restorative justice — with accountability to parents and themselves — rather than punishment.

But for “the other 1 or 2%,” the loopholes are wide. And widely exploited.

Prezioso described the pandemic’s impact on juvenile justice. When courthouses were shut, it created a backlog of cases that continues today.

“The same 50 to 75 kids across the state are responsible for most of the crimes,” Deputy Chief Ryan Paulsson said.

“We know exactly who they are. But our hands are tied.”

When the public spoke, several asked about personal safety. Beyond the oft-repeated advice — lock cars always; keep them in a garage, with keys, fobs and valuables removed — officers recommended lights all around a property, including the back; being aware at all times; making sure vehicles have tracking devices, and calling police for any suspicious activity.

Knowing your neighbors, and working together, also helps.

Diane Lowman was among 2 dozen people who spoke at last night’s forum. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Yet the loudest applause came from residents who castigated politicians who promoted, and passed, legislation that has led to the current situation.

Koskinas agreed. While praising support he’s received from Westport officials, who provide him with the tools and personnel he needs — along with the regional cooperation of many law enforcement agencies — he made the “not great analogy” with the current debate on gun safety.

“Cars are bullets too,” he said. “An unsecured car can become as dangerous as an unsecured gun.”

In the aftermath of the carjacking, Koskinas said, all of Westport’s legislators reached out to him.

“Our state legislature needs input from police departments — and everyone here” to change the current laws, he said, to robust applause.

“I hope they’re as tenacious about this as they were when they passed the Police Accountability bill.”

(Hat tip: Bill Dedman) 

Unsung Heroes #303

This week’s Unsung Heroes selection is a no-brainer.

Less than 48 hours after Sunday’s carjacking, the Westport Police helped arrest two suspects. They also recovered the Aston Martin stolen from a Bayberry Lane garage.

Working with the Bridgeport Auto Theft Task Force (of which Westport is a member), the Connecticut State Police Violent Crime Task Force, and the Berlin and Waterbury Police Departments, a 39-year-old man and juvenile were arrested yesterday.

It took a ton of effort. Westport detectives worked tirelessly. Police Chief Foti Koskinas had “a couple of sleepless nights.”

But the job got done quickly, efficiently and effectively.

Kudos to everyone involved, from the first responders to all who worked behind the scenes. You truly do “serve and protect.”

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email 06880blog@gmail.com).

Roundup: Carjacking Forum, Car Theft Podcast, Lyman Apartments …

Tonight’s special forum on car thefts, vehicle break-ins and Sunday’s carjacking (Wednesday, September 20, 7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) will also be livestreamed. Click here to access that page, on the town’s website.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas will lead a discussion on safety concerns voiced by residents. He and members of his command staff will describe the work of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, formed in response to increased car thefts and vehicle break-ins in the area.

The discussion will also include police practices utilized to combat vehicle thefts.

Yesterday, Koskinas and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker taped a special edition of “What’s Happening … Westport.” They discussed the escalation in incidents, and what residents can do. Click below to listen to the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston podcast.


Meanwhile, Westport Police made one custodial arrest between September 13 nd 20. A woman was charged with disorderly conduct, following a domestic dispute.

Police also issued these citations:

  • Failure to comply with state traffic commission regulations 6 citations
  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 4
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 3
  • Operating a motor vehicle without minimum insurance: 3
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 2
  • Failure to obey traffic control signs: 2
  • Evading responsibility: 1
  • Following too closely: 1
  • Distracted driving: 1
  • Distracted driving (2nd offense): 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle using a handheld phone: 1
  • Failure to grant right of way: 1
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 1
  • Improper use of license plates: 1


As winter nears, Westport’s sister city of Lyman is in a race against time.

52 apartment buildings need repairs, so they can survive the cold weather and be fully restored in the spring.

Ukraine Aid International co-founder Brian Mayer — the Westporter who helped create the sister city relationship, and has made many trips to Lyman on our behalf — sends a video that shows how much our town has helped.

And how much remains to be done.

(Donations through Ukrainian Aid International will help rebuild the many heavily damaged apartments. Click here to help. Under “Designation,” click the dropdown menu and select “Westport — Lyman Sister City.”)


This Friday’s Westport Country Playhouse show is called “I’ll Drink to That! A Broadway Cocktail Party.”

Fittingly, it will feature Broadway stars.

Joe Delafield, Kristen Hahn and Maggie Lacey will perform cocktail-themed tunes and scenes from Broadway productions, while author Laurence Maslon recounts tales of actors, shows, and cocktail concoctions from his recently published book, “I’ll Drink to That!”

The event (September 22, 6 p.m., Playhouse courtyard and barn) begins with cocktails that pay homage to Broadway. The 70-minute program concludes with a second cocktail and book signing. Cocktails are included with $50 ticket.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

From left: Joe Delafield, Kristen Hahn, Maggie Lacy.


STAR Inc. and Voices Center for Resilience present a special program: “A 22-Year Journey from 9/11 to Today: Helping Families and Communities Prepare for Emergencies” (October 18, 7 p.m., Westport Library).

Mary Fetchet — founding Director of Voices Center for Resilience — lives in New Canaan. Her son Brad died in the September 11 attacks.

She will share her personal experience and perspective on preparing communities in advance of a tragedy. The presentations also includes representatives of local and state emergency management, highlighting their efforts to prepare communities.

For more information and to register,  click here.

Mary Fetchet, with a photo of her son Brad.


When kids go to the doctor, they may be nervous.

Like many offices, Village Pediatrics provides distractions to calm their nerves.

Their latest surprise, for patients big and small: an outer space room.

Huck (in the rocket control center) and Lola Shipman, with their mother.


Speaking of doctors: BD²: Breakthrough Discoveries for Thriving with Bipolar Disorder today announced an $18 million first round of grants, focusing on research in bipolar disorder.

Among the recipients: Westport resident Dr. Hilary Blumberg. She will lead a Yale University team in an investigation of mitochondrial-related genes, metabolic changes, and the central importance of energy- and activity-related symptoms at the onset of bipolar-related episodes. These studies w may translate that into pharmacological therapeutics and behavioral interventions. (Hat tip: Sherri Peyser)

Dr. Hilary Blumberg


The bar for “06880” Entitled Parking photos has been set incredibly high.

Drivers must now show breathtaking acts of selfishness to be featured here.

This one does:

(Photo/David Meth)

That’s not one, but two handicap spots taken up at Stop & Shop.

Plus, the car is taking up space in the drivers’ part of the lot too.

And — of course! — there is no handicap placard inside the car.


Johanna Keyser Rossi reports for “Westport … Naturally” from Sherwood Island State Park:

“There were lots of monarch butterflies yesterday, all around the milkweeds and bees. Unfortunately, lanternflies were everywhere too.”

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


Roger Whittaker — described by the New York Times as “a British singer whose easy-listening ballads and folk songs caught the sentiments of perfect summer days and last farewells, touching the hearts of mainly older fans across Europe and America for four decades” — died last week in France. He was 87.

Click here for a full obituary.

(By contributing to”06880,” you support local news coverage. Please click here to help your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Juvenile Arrested In Westport Carjacking

The Westport Police Department has issued this press release:

Earlier today, the Westport Police Detective Bureau arrested a 16-year-old juvenile in connection with the carjacking that occurred this past Sunday.

Based on information obtained by the Westport Detective Bureau, a warrant to search a residence in Berlin, CT was secured.

(Yesterday), the warrant was executed by members of the Bridgeport Auto Theft Task Force, of which Westport is a member, along with members of Berlin Police Department.  During this search 4 stolen motor vehicles were recovered, one of which was the Aston Martin taken during the carjacking.


Aston Martin recovered in Berlin.

A 2021 BMW 530i that was stolen from Westport on September 16 and used in the carjacking was also located during the search.

Finally, a BMW stolen from Ridgefield and a Porsche stolen from Rhode Island were also recovered. Thirty-nine-year-old Derrick McGill, who lives at the home where the stolen cars were found, was placed under arrest  by the Bridgeport Auto Theft Task Force but does not currently have charges pending in Westport. He is being held on a $250,000 bond and has been charged with the following crimes:

  • Larceny of Motor Vehicle 1st Degree (4 Counts)
  • Conspiracy to Commit Larceny of Motor Vehicle 1st (1 Count)
  • Payment Card Theft (1 Count)
  • Illegal Operation of a Chop Shop (1 Count)
  • Conspiracy to Commit Illegal Operation of a Chop Shop (1 Count)

BMWs stolen  from Westport and Ridgefield.

On September 19, 2023, Westport Police Detectives, the Connecticut State Police Violent Crime Task Force, and members of the Waterbury Police Department executed a second search warrant on a residence in Waterbury. A handgun with an extended magazine was seized.

A 16-year-old juvenile who resides in the home was arrested by Westport police after evidence linking him to the carjacking was uncovered. He was charged with the following crimes:

  • Strangulation 1st Degree
  • Robbery by Carjacking
  • Burglary 1st Degree
  • Criminal Attempt to Commit Larceny of Motor Vehicle 1st Degree
  • Assault 3rd Degree
  • Home invasion

Additionally, he was arrested for his alleged involvement in the theft of the BMW on September 16, 2023, and used in the carjacking. The juvenile was charged with the following:

  • Larceny of Motor Vehicle 1st Degree
  • Illegal Taking of Payment Card

Westport detectives will seek an order to detain and if granted the juvenile will be transported to Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center later today.

Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas stated, “By utilizing technology, inter-departmental cooperation, and good old fashioned police work, the Detective Bureau in concert with Bridgeport Auto-theft Task Force was able to make rapid progress in this investigation which resulted in the arrest of one of the suspects less than 36 hours after the incident occurred.”

First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker said, “As always, the professionalism, expertise and experience of our Westport Police Department, was on full display as they worked diligently and rapidly to solve this case. I am also grateful for the assistance from the other State and municipal agencies and the Task Force who helped bring it to a swift conclusion.”

She added, “Together with our public safety officials, we will continue the conversations and daily practices to deter further incidents, and to make Westport a community that remains safe and welcoming for all.”

Westport Police want to thank the Connecticut State Police Violent Crime Task Force, Bridgeport Auto Theft Task Force, Berlin Police Department and Waterbury Police Department for their assistance with the investigation.

Westport Police Detectives continue to work with partner agencies in developing leads to identify additional suspects involved in this incident.

Townwide Forum On Wednesday Will Address Auto Thefts, Carjacking

Yesterday’s carjacking — and the recent spike in car thefts — has rattled many Westporters.

This Wednesday (September 20, 7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) Westport Police Department and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker will host a town forum on public safety. It will focus on car thefts, vehicle break-ins, and Sunday’s carjacking.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas will lead a discussion on safety concerns voiced by residents. He and members of his command staff will describe the work of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, formed in response to increased car thefts and vehicle break-ins in the area.

The discussion will also include police practices utilized to combat vehicle thefts.

All Westporters are invited to Wednesday’s event.

Meanwhile, Westport Police have released Ring videos of the carjacking. Portions of the video have been redacted, to protect the victim’s identity.


Koskinas On Carjacking, Car Thefts, What Cops Can And Can’t Do

Yesterday’s daylight carjacking in the garage of a Bayberry Lane home surprised and shook many Westporters.

One man was not surprised: Police Chief Foti Koskinas.

With the rise in car thefts and break-ins around town — always of unlocked vehicles — he’s feared an escalation like this was coming.

He’s also frustrated. He followed the stolen vehicle from I-95 exit 19 to Route 8 exit 27, where he had to stop.

Two carjackers surround the driver of an Aston Martin in his Bayberry Lane garage yesterday.

The carjacking — with an assault on the driver, in his vehicle in his own garage — is different from the “property crimes” of break-ins and thefts.

Early this morning — after being up all night — Koskinas discussed both with “06880.”

“There is a level of frustration, as a department,” the chief said. “There’s not much we can do initially,” when officers respond to a break-in or theft.

“We do all the follow-up. We try to get DNA, and lift fingerprints. We have an officer on an Auto Theft Task Force with area towns. They’ve recovered cars, and guns.”

But the problem starts with cars that are left unlocked in driveways, or open garages — often with the keys, fobs and/or valuables in plain sight.

None of the car thefts have involved jump starts or punched ignitions, Koskinas said.

The carjacking was different. Two men followed the victim — driving an Aston Martin — home, then assaulted him and stole his car.

They followed him in 2 vehicles that they had stolen previously.

When Koskinas saw the Aston Martin, he followed it on and off the highway.

The drivers “were taunting me — baiting me,” Koskinas said. “They were not afraid.” Eventually — due to heavy traffic, and the potential for an accident — the chief had to back off.

Westport Police Chief Fotios Koskinas (Photo/Dan Woog)

Those were legitimate concerns after a carjacking. Connecticut laws on pursuit following a property theft — an unlocked car, for example — are even more restrictive.

“It makes sense. You don’t want to injure or kill someone — the car thief or anyone else — after a property crime.”

But to not give officers the latitude to make that decision in the middle of the night, when there is very light traffic, for example, is frustrating.

So is the knowledge that catching car thieves — many of whom are juveniles — is almost fruitless.

The official age of “juveniles” was raised years ago, from 16 to 18. Juveniles caught now are released within hours, Koskinas said — even if they have multiple charges already pending. It’s almost like fishermen’s “catch and release.”

“The court system is overwhelmed,” Koskinas said. “They’re still backlogged with pre-COVID cases. And young people know what the police can and can’t do.”

He noted that the consequences for yesterday’s crime — if the carjackers are caught — are much more serious than a simple car theft.

“I try not to do politics,” Koskinas said. “But every time I hear a politician touting that jails are empty and crime is down — well, it’s not true. The hands of the police are tied.

“People talk about holding police accountable for their actions. They should. In Westport, we hold ourselves to the highest standard. But society has to be held accountable too. There’s a balance.

“Its extremely frustrating,” Koskinas continued. “These guys know if they come to Westport, they’ll be successful. So they come, the word gets out, and they come back and bring others. They have a high rate of success here, stealing very nice cars.”

Westport police recover almost 100% of cars — often with extensive damage. The stolen cars don’t go to chop shops, or overseas, the chief says.

They’re used to commit other crimes: robberies, street crimes, gang-related shootings in other cities.

Koskinas has increased patrols at times when crimes happen. He’ll continue to do so.

Koskinas is heartened that every town official — from “the selectwoman’s office to the newest RTM member” — has supported his requests. “My hands have never been tied,” he said.

But, he noted, “we have 10,000 or 11,000 homes in town. Yesterday, 2 people followed someone home. Having another 10 officers might have helped after this happened, but it wouldn’t have stopped it before.”

So what can Westporters do? Be very careful of your surroundings. Call the police — any time — when something looks or feels suspicious.

And park your cars in locked garages. If they must be outdoors, put them in well-lit areas, with keys, fobs and all valuables safely inside your home.

Thieves go where they’ll be most successful. The harder we make it for them in Westport, the less chance they’ll keep coming back.

Carjackers Attack In Bayberry Lane Garage

A Bayberry Lane resident was a victim today of a carjacking — in his own garage.

At 3:50 this afternoon (Sunday), he pulled into his garage. Two men followed him in.

They assaulted the man while he was in his vehicle, forcibly removed him, and stole his blue Aston Martin.

Westport Police believe the suspects arrived in a dark blue BMW, as it was seen fleeing along with the stolen vehicle.

The victim suffered minor injuries, but declined medical attention.

Both vehicles were last seen traveling north on Route 8.

The Westport Police Detective Bureau is investigating the carjacking. Anyone with information should call 203-341-6080.

Police add: “It is believed the victim was targeted and followed back to their residence. We encourage residents to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior to 911.”

The incident was captured on the Ring app:

Two men surround the victim’s car, after he pulls into his garage.

A few seconds later, they attack him from the same side. (Photos from Ring app)