DENVER — New data released this week by the Colorado Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force (CMATT) show that car thefts rose again in 2021, with an average of more than 100 cars stolen per day throughout the state.
In the Denver metropolitan area, where CMATT investigates car-theft rings, thefts have increased 113% since 2019.
Colorado was the No. 1 state in the nation for car theft rate per 100,000 residents in 2020, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
“It’s more than prolific,” CMATT Cmdr. Mike Greenwell said, attributing some of the increase to a lack of consequences for auto thefts and property crimes.
Car thefts rose in nearly every metro area municipality, except for the Town of Castle Rock, which saw a 25% decrease in 2021. In total, the community had 87 car thefts last year.
“Castle Rock is not where you want to go if you’re driving a stolen vehicle,” said Castle Rock Police Cmdr. Jason Lyons.
Lyons said the community is plagued with more property crime than anything else and police have been able to prioritize auto theft.
The department has also made use of license plate readers that alert police when a stolen car shows up in the town. Officers can then pull the car over and stop the person before they can commit another crime.
“Over the last six months or so, it has been an absolute game-changer for our organization,” Lyons said.
On the other side of the data, the City of Glendale led the metro area in thefts per capita. The small community just to the east of Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood had 36 car thefts per 1,000 residents, roughly double the next closest community. With just over 5,000 residents, the city had 187 car thefts.
“We’re actually seeing quite a lot (of thefts) here in Glendale,” Glendale Police Lt. Jamie Dillon said. “We’re very concerned that we’re at the top of the list and we’re doing everything we can to lower it.”
Dillon says most of the cars are stolen from people visiting Glendale and using its parking garages and lots.
“We have a very dense population with large parking lots, large parking structures and a huge opportunity for auto thieves,” Dillon said.
Dillion said Glendale police have recently purchased license plate readers and are working to add one of its own officers to the statewide auto theft task force.
Cara Shirley, who had her car stolen earlier this year, said she hasn’t parked her car in a garage for weeks because she’s scared.
“It’s just so traumatic,” she said.