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Denver woman calling for harsher penalties after car stolen three times in six months

Polis urging Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to look at changes to auto theft sentencing
Denver woman calling for harsher penalties after car stolen three times in six months
Posted at 5:54 PM, Sep 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 19:55:29-04

DENVER — As frustrated as she is, Molly Brand's situation is so ridiculously common in the Denver metro, she can't help but laugh about it.

"My car has been stolen three times in the last six months," said Brand, who lives in Denver's East Colfax neighborhood.

It's been six months of forking up hundreds of dollars in premiums, as she tries to convince her car insurance agent that this is a common phenomena in Denver. Before one insurance claim is submitted, another one opens.

The saga began on April 5 at UCHealth's parking lot.

"The first time, it was actually stolen from an emergency room parking lot," Brand said. "The second time was just August 13, and I had parked it in front of my house for just one night. It was gone the next morning, and they found it 10 days later in LA."

From there, Brand's 2017 Hyundai Tucson was transported back to her home near Colfax Avenue and Syracuse Street Tuesday.

"The battery was dead, the ignition was punched out, the locks were punched out," she said.

Thankfully, there was no body damage to the car. However, 48 hours later, Brand walked out to an oh-so familiar sight.

"Thursday, the car was gone again. So somehow, they stole my car that had a dead battery," she said.

A Denver crime map shows that eight cars were reported stolen within a few blocks of Brand's home in September alone. Within the last year, the map shows more than 340 cars have been stolen from the East Colfax neighborhood.

"We need harsher penalties," Brand said. "I mean, why wouldn't you go steal a car if you [knew] nothing would happen to you? If you don't have the moral compass to not do it, there's no reason not to."

Coincidentally, this week, Governor Jared Polis called on the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to examine changes to the state's auto theft sentencing.

"Auto theft is devastating property crime for those affected, who often lose their only way to get to work or get to the store. In addition, it is frequently a precursor crime that is often used in the furtherance of violence and other crimes," Polis said in a letter issued Thursday. "Enhancing the penalties associated with auto theft, regardless of the value of the vehicle stolen, has the potential to make us safer and improve the quality of life in Colorado."

Polis said if the commission does not provide the requested recommendations this year, he will work with the legislature to enact auto theft sentencing reforms in the 2023 session.