By Shawn Chitnis
DENVER (CBS4) – Police departments and organizations in Denver trying to reduce car thefts unveiled a “Kilo Car” covered in fake drugs this week to highlight the problem of stolen vehicles across the state leading to other serious crimes.
“I think that it’s making a statement,” said Jill Blake, while walking by the display. “If you let your car get stolen, it could be possibly used for drug money.”
Just minutes after Coloradans Against Auto Theft revealed the car in a parking lot at 14th Street and Stout, people kept stopping to take a closer look. Many passing by said they always lock their cars and were surprised this was a common cause for stolen vehicles in Colorado. Organizers of the “Lockdown” campaign say up to 50 cars are taken each day across the state.
“I think all too often people think of auto theft as a victimless property crime,” said Carole Walker, chair of CAAT. “Auto theft can and does happen to everyone. You need to not make it easy for thieves.”
One of the statistics on the car, 97 percent of auto thieves arrested are charged with additional crimes, according to CAAT. Drug and violent crimes are increasing with auto theft, Walker said.
That was part of the reason to cover the car with fake heroin and fentanyl. The Kilo Car will be on display by the convention center for a week, the campaign hopes this direct method catches the attention of as many people as possible.
“It’s full of drugs, that’s my initial reaction,” laughed Laura Coon. “I’ve lived here two years and with the things I’ve heard, it’s become habit to lock my car.”
Even tourists visiting from overseas had to stop to take a closer look at the display. They were surprised to hear this was an issue in the United States.
“It’s everything on there, to think that a car innocently used, can be used to traffic drugs across the country,” said Floyd Harris. “In the UK we do lock our cars, we are not as trusting as everyone else.”
Last year 19,000 cars were stolen in Colorado. The Metropolitan Auto Theft Team estimates that almost half of those vehicles could have remained with their owners if the doors were locked or if any valuables were taken out. But leaders with the team say too many people have never had their cars stolen and don’t know what it’s like to deal with that kind of crime, so they don’t lock their doors.
“It kind of made me laugh, kind of funny, never really seen anything like that,” said Akeem Sultan. “Definitely makes you think about leaving your car unlocked.”
The Kilo Car will also be on display at the Denver Auto Show in April.