DENVER (CBS4) – New statistics from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation show what Denver metro area law enforcement agencies have said previously — car thefts were up in 2020. Data from CBI says there were 30,942 reports of vehicle theft, a 38.6% jump from 2019.

CBI says the Department of Public Safety will announce a statewide task force which will work with the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority. Their goal will be to develop a strategy to reduce the number of thefts.

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(credit: CBS)

In February, Commander Mike Greenwell told CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass car thefts in the Denver metro area jumped nearly 55% from 2019 to 2020. Greenwell oversees the Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force which is comprised of police from seven jurisdictions.

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Overall, the CBI says total crimes reported in 2020 increased by 3.9% from the previous year with 353,528 crimes reported.

Aside from people not closely watching their vehicles, and COVID-19’s effect on the economy, Greenwell says the threat of jailtime is virtually absent.

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“Our thieves quickly learned they were not going to jail,” said Greenwell. “That’s the biggest factor. We’d have them sitting on the side of the road in handcuffs and they’d tell us, ‘take the cuffs off because you know I’m not going to jail.'”

Danielle Chavira