DENVER — Metro Denver and the state of Colorado now top the list for auto thefts, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
In 2022, more than 40,000 cars were in stolen in Colorado. That’s the most per capita of any other state.
The prime target for thieves? Hyundai and Kia model vehicles.
Sheila Hughes has the unfortunate distinction of being an auto theft victim not once, not twice, but three times in the past two years. Her Hyundai Elantra was stolen while she was out-of-town for her service in the Air Force Reserves.
“I think it’s not being taken seriously,” Hughes said. “When I call the police, they’re like, ‘Oh, this happens.’ And everyone says that. They’re just like, ‘This is the trend.’ But they don’t say how I’m going to get my daughter to school, how I’m going to get to work, how I get a new car.”
She is fed up.
“The third time, I reached out to the news because I don’t want to keep doing this,” Hughes told Denver7. “I don’t want to keep putting my daughter in the car, and I don’t know what else to do.”
She is worried about what thieves may have done to her car, or in it.
“It is the fear, especially with fentanyl,” Hughes said. “I have a little one, so I don’t want her to have contact with anything in there.”
Hughes finally convinced her auto insurance company, USAA, to total her Hyundai after the third theft.
“I put a lot of pressure on them because I told them I was reaching out to the news,” she said. “And within 24 hours turnaround time, they totaled it out.”
Experts say using an anti-theft device, like a steering wheel lock, can go a long way to deterring thieves. The cost of a lock ranges from $27 to $52.
“We’ve got The Club here,” said Auto Zone auto parts expert Hayley Davis. “We’ve got a couple different kinds. You just put it on your steering wheel and then it clicks and it locks.”
Experts say Kia and Hyundai models are targets because many of them don’t have push button ignition switches, which make vehicles much harder to steal.
Experts also suggest installing an after-market car alarm if your vehicle doesn’t already have an alarm.