Police: Stolen Vehicles Becoming All Too Common

By Jeff Todd

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – After a rash of smash-and-grab burglaries around the Denver Metro area, police are asking car owners to be smarter to keep thieves at bay.

Colorado has a stolen vehicle recovery rate of nearly 90 percent, but the cars are usually not in the same shape when they are returned to their owners.

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“They’re wrecked, they’re trashed inside and out, they’re used to create damage. They’re just not the same vehicle you thought you had when it was taken,” said Steve Davis with the Lakewood Police Department.

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On Thursday, a SUV was used to break into a marijuana grow facility. The suspects got away with a bag of trash and no marijuana. The car was stolen from the owner’s driveway in September.

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Lakewood has seen a rash of burglaries from gun shops to other establishments recently.

“The amount of time that a stolen vehicle is used in additional crimes certainly has risen,” Davis said. He estimates roughly 8 in 10 vehicles stolen are then used in another crime.

“These stolen vehicles are used in every kind of crime imaginable, the smash-and-grab burglaries, residential burglaries, shoplifts, thefts, drug transactions and all the way up to homicides,” Davis said.

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18,047 cars were stolen in 2016. So far this year, 10,873 cars have been stolen in the metro area. That’s on pace for a fourth straight year of increased vehicle theft.

With winter on its way, Davis says he’s concerned the problem could get worse with cars waiting to warm up.

A stolen car gets towed away. (credit: CBS)

“We’re making it way too easy for them to steal our cars, there are three main things that get a car stolen. The car was unlocked, the car had the keys in it, or the car was running. If we could get rid of those circumstances my guess is we could get rid of 80 to 90 percent of auto theft,” Davis said.

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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