Rash of stolen cars, thefts from cars in Middletown

Amanda Parrish * Delaware
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

There has been a fivefold increase in thefts from cars and in stolen vehicles since the start of March, compared to January and February.

Middletown police have received reports of five stolen vehicles and 32 thefts from cars since March 1, Chief Robert Kracyla said in a Facebook video April 6, with eight in the first week of April.

Kracyla said “a majority” of thefts have been on Willow Grove Mill and Long Meadow drives, a mile south of the police department.

Kracyla said 26 thefts have occurred in that area since Jan. 1. Others took place in the Middletown Crossing shopping area and Middletown Village neighborhood.

“With this COVID-19 crisis going on and recognizing a lot of people are home, we are really getting hurt by theft from and theft of motor vehicles,” he said in a March 30 video.

Kracyla expects the number of occurrences is higher because not everyone reports items stolen out of cars.

Patrick Mullin, Middletown Police Department crime analyst, said in an email there were three thefts from motor vehicles and one stolen in January and three thefts from vehicles in February.

Kracyla said nearly all involved unlocked cars, a problem associated with more people having key fobs that unlock them within a certain range.

Middletown police are investigating the cases with other law enforcement agencies.

“Not only are we getting hit, but so are the other law enforcement agencies around the state,” Kracyla said.

Based on reports from other departments, the chief said there have been thefts from cars and stolen cars in other areas of the county:

53 in the New Castle-area;

113 in Elsmere;

45 in Pike Creek;

59 in Capital Trail Farms;

25 in the Newark area.

He asked Middletown residents to call the police about anyone they see wandering their neighborhoods in the middle of the night.

“Let us determine if they are suspicious or not. For me right now, someone out at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning is going to qualify as a suspicious person,” he said.

Anyone who has information can contact the Middletown Police Department at 302-573-2800.