Auto Thefts Shake Community’s Sense Of Security

By Lauren DiSpirito

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – People in two Aurora communities say reports of auto thefts have shaken their sense of security.

On Sunday, around 12:30 a.m., Nicole Cole says someone entered her garage inside the Traditions community in northeast Aurora and stole her 2014 red Nissan Frontier pickup truck.

21 Auto Thefts Shake Communitys Sense Of Security

(credit: CBS)

She and her husband discovered the car missing later that morning and called police. The couple had accidentally left their garage door open overnight.

Cole posted about what happened on her a community Facebook page for people who live in her neighborhood. A neighbor saw the post, checked footage from two surveillance cameras outside his home, and shared it with Cole.

41 Auto Thefts Shake Communitys Sense Of Security

(credit: CBS)

She says the cameras captured the entire act, from the thief driving into their neighborhood in his vehicle, to him parking, driving off in her pickup truck, and 20 minutes later, coming back to retrieve his car.

“He stopped in front of our house and left his lights on,” Cole said. “So, he’s definitely brazen. He’s not afraid.”

31 Auto Thefts Shake Communitys Sense Of Security

CBS4’s Lauren DiSpirito interviews Nicole Cole. (credit: CBS)

Cole shared the surveillance video with police and posted images on Facebook, hoping to warn her neighbors. Soon afterwards, Cole heard from Imelda Chavez, who told her someone had also stolen her vehicle in a nearby community days earlier.

Chavez says someone stole her sedan from outside her home in the Adonea neighborhood, adjacent to Traditions, around 4 a.m. on Wednesday. A different neighbor’s cameras captured what appears to be person in a hooded sweatshirt walking from car to car the same night her 1996 Honda Accord vanished. After swapping stories about the thefts on social media, Cole found Chavez’s car, stripped and without its tires, outside a construction site in the area.

51 Auto Thefts Shake Communitys Sense Of Security

(credit: CBS)

“Honestly, it’s terrifying,” Chavez said. “I grew up here. Never once have I ever doubted the safety of our neighborhood until now.”

Chavez says her family moved to the Adonea neighborhood 10 years ago, when it was just a fledgling community.

“I fear for not only the safety of my property, but for other neighbors,” Chavez said. “It’s just something I wish no neighbors have to go through.”

Chavez and Cole say Aurora Police are investigating their cases. While Aurora police tell CBS4 they have not seen an increase of auto thefts in the Adonea or Traditions neighborhoods in recent months, they do report an increase of such crimes citywide. According to statistics posted on the Aurora police website, there were 1,288 motor vehicle thefts in the city in 2015. Last year that number rose 20 percent, to 1,547 motor vehicle thefts.

In 2015, Coloradans Against Auto Theft listed Aurora, Denver and Lakewood among the top 5 cities for auto theft. According to the coalition’s website, Honda Civic and Accord models are among the most frequently stolen vehicles in Colorado.

Chavez and Cole believe the thefts were “well-planned” and want to warn others about what happened.

“See something, say something,” Cole says. “If it looks suspicious, it probably is suspicious.”

Lauren DiSpirito reports for CBS4 News at 10 p.m. She covers breaking news and feature stories along Colorado’s Front Range. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Lauren. Share your story ideas with her here.

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