By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4)- A family from Durango became the victims of car theft while staying a Denver hospital. They are just one instance of rising auto theft in the city.

In early October, Manuelito Garbiso had the scare of his life when his wife had to be airlifted from their home in Durango to Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver. He says she is pregnant with twins, and the babies weren’t putting on weight.

“They flew my wife down on the Flight for Life from Durango, and because I had a vehicle I drove the vehicle down here,” said Manuelito.

When he arrived in Denver he learned she would be staying for a couple months. He chose to get a job and stay with his family.

It was a tough life, but he was making it work. He stayed at the hospital when he could, and drove to work when he had to. Then on one morning, he went out the parking garage at the hospital where he always parked his 2003 Tahoe and noticed it was gone.

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He says he went to security who confirmed they had video of his vehicle being stolen. They called Denver police.

“They both actually told me that they’ve had numerous car thefts in there,” said Manuelito.

Denver police says they are aware of incidents at and near that campus, which includes other medical facilities.

According to their online crime statistics map, there have been 12 auto thefts in the area since Oct. 1. Seven of them appear to be at medical facilities, but Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen says it’s not just a problem for this hospital or this neighborhood.

“They’re up 101%. Five thousand more cars stolen, at the same time we are arresting more people,” Pazen said.

Pazen says it may not seem like a big deal for some, for others it can be life changing.

“Having a car stolen can devastating,” he said.

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Manuelito knows that well.

“My car is my life,” he said.

In a statement Presbyterian/St. Luke’s and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children said:

“At Presbyterian/St. Luke’s and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, the safety of our patients, community members, colleagues, and providers is paramount. We are grateful to partner with our trusted onsite security team as well as contracted off-duty Denver Police Department Officers to ensure our campus remains as safe as possible and are fortunate to have not experienced any violent crime. Unfortunately, according to a recent report issued by the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority, Denver auto thefts in the first half of 2021 were up 73% from the previous year. We continue to analyze our security measures to deter all criminal activity. Any incident that occurs on campus is investigated fully, including providing all necessary assistance to law enforcement officials to ensure crimes in the neighborhood are reduced. Our hearts go out to this family and we will cooperate in every way possible with authorities.”

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In their own statement Denver Police said,

“The Denver Police Department is aware of incidents at and near that campus, which includes other medical facilities. This location will continue to be monitored for future crime patterns and when such patterns appear, proactive extra patrols will be conducted to help mitigate the criminal activity.”

They also urge people to secure their car and take steps to make sure you don’t become a victim of auto theft.

Manuelito hopes they can keep cars safe from now on at the hospital.

“People shouldn’t be worried about where to park your vehicle at the hospital when they are trying to take care of something else,” said Manuelito.

Michael Abeyta