Terri Finney returned to Denver International Airport at the end of a weekend trip to find her car gone from the east garage, where she’d parked it two days earlier. By the end of the week, Denver police had arrested the suspected thieves and recovered her Audi A4 sedan.
But what seemed like a happy ending turned sour when she saw the condition of the seven-year-old car.
It sustained minor physical damage that “would’ve been fixable,” Finney recalled, “but they had smoked so much meth in it that it was totaled.”
She is among dozens of DIA travelers affected by a surge in auto thefts from its garages and lots this year as the frequency of on-airport thefts has more than doubled. Increasingly, law enforcement officials say, theft rings and individual thieves have viewed the airport’s acres of parking and rental car lots as easy targets during the pandemic, swiping an average 16 cars a month this year.
Auto theft is a recurring problem at the hotels and lots outside DIA’s boundaries, too. It’s increased across the country in the last two years, along with some other types of crime. But police data show that DIA’s growth in auto theft cases has far outpaced metro Denver as a whole.