By Howard Nathan

DENVER (CBS4) – There’s a flashing sign in Denver’s Cheesman Park neighborhood that reminds you to lock your vehicle and secure your items. It’s a sign that could be placed in every Denver neighborhood and beyond.

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“It’s silly that we have to remind each other to do that,” said Kyle Skatberg of Denver.

Data from 2015 compared to 2014 shows auto theft is up in the city by almost 30 percent due in part to people not locking their cars.

Newcomers to Colorado may part of the cause of the problem.

“As we see big city problems move into Colorado and violent crimes increase, auto theft is involved with those,” said Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

Auto theft often plays a role in other crimes, Walker says.

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“We’re also seeing gang activity that is involved with organized crime rings, they’re stealing these cars and then they’re involved with all kinds of other crimes, whether it’s running guns, drugs or a meth ring,” said Walker.

Walker sais that when you allow a criminal access to your car you’re allowing access to your life.

“When they steal your car, they have all of your personal information and (perhaps) your garage door opener. We had one ring of thieves that were actually using it for home invasions. So they were actually stealing your car to break into the home,” she said.

By the numbers, Denver averages almost 286 auto thefts every week. Colorado Springs ranked second, followed by Aurora, Pueblo, Lakewood, Adams County and Thornton.

The two most targeted cars were Honda Civic and Honda Accord. Many thieves want them for parts to sell on the black market.

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Howard Nathan is a veteran newsman. Decades later, he still enjoys writing a clever sentence, asking the tough question and talking to people in Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Howard and read his bio.