Uptick in crime? Chief Kiely talks about unusual week of robberies, carjacking

A number of crimes this past week have been keeping police and residents on high alert. Two bank robberies, an armed carjacking, a burglary of a gym on Lindemann Drive all happened within a week’s time here in Trumbull.

Police Chief Thomas Kiely is assuring residents that police are working hard on each case and this isn’t a new normal for the town.

“In 40 years I never remember ever having two bank robberies in the same week,” Kiely said Monday. “These are two different bank robberies and we are following leads for both. I am confident we will, in time, have a successful conclusion to both.”

Kiely spoke to The Times on Monday, before the first arrest was made in Friday’s armed robbery of People’s United Bank on Madison Avenue. The People’s Bank robbery is connected to the armed carjacking Thursday at the Trumbull Marriott. The suspects, one of whom is in custody, used the car in the bank robbery, then set it on fire.

“This was very planned out,” Kiely said of Friday’s robbery. “They knew what they were doing, but we know what we’re doing, too.”

Last Tuesday, a suspect robbed the Webster Bank on Daniels Farm Road. In that case, no gun was presented and the suspect fled on foot, after getting cash from a teller.

On Sunday, an employee at Planet Fitness on Lindemann Drive noticed glass had been smashed and a burglary had occurred. The suspect or suspects made off with several flat-screen televisions and some cash.

“This is an aberration,” Kiely said of recent spike in robberies. “This is not the norm by any stretch of the imagination.”

So how are police handling the additional workload?

“We have increased our patrols, paying extra attention to any retail areas,” Kiely said. “When crimes like this happen, there is a lot of groundwork that need to be done. The detectives are doing a marvelous job and were working on it all weekend. They seem confident and I’m confident in them.”

Kiely said staffing is sufficient to handle the workload, though many detectives are working overtime.

“In time, we want to put two more people in our detective bureau,” Kiely said. “Right now, there are a lot of leads to follow and they are handling it.”

Drug connection?

Kiely noted that any uptick in crimes like shoplifting or burglary can potentially be linked a growing regional use of heroin. He was not referring to any of the recent cases specifically, but said police departments all over the state are seeing heroin addiction as a growing problem.

“We’ve been dealing with heroin since the day I got on the police department,” Kiely said. “But with an uptick now in heroin use, we have to see what that will do to our crime stats — as far as burglaries, shoplifters — there may be long-term effects of this.”

Trumbull is part of a statewide narcotics task force that keeps officials updated on what is happening in the region. Around the state, departments are seeing more drug-related crimes and are seeing more overdoses.

“This is something we have to look at,” Kiely said. “It’s not just a Trumbull problem, it’s a regional problem.”