DENVER — New numbers from the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA) and Colorado State Patrol (CSP) show a decline in auto thefts throughout the state. But authorities stress this is not the time to be complacent.
"We're talking today about a really positive thing, about a reduction in auto theft by 21% last year. But we are still very much at the top side of the list of per capita most stolen vehicles," said Cale Gould, spokesperson for CATPA.
Data shows a 21% drop in auto thefts statewide from 2022 to 2023 — roughly 8,000 fewer stolen cars.
“Everybody in Colorado became so hyper-aware of auto theft, and a lot of people might have taken extreme measures to try and prevent their vehicle from being stolen,” said Gould.
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Gould said legislative changes may have also aided the decline. Senate Bill 23-097 eliminated auto theft penalties based on a vehicle's value, meaning thieves will face a felony no matter if they steal a Rolls Royce or Ford Focus. State Representative Matt Soper, a prime sponsor of the bill, said the measure was long overdue.
“When someone burglarizes our home, the cops don't show up and say, 'What's the value of our house?' They're looking at the fact that someone broke into your home,” Soper said.
Denver International Airport, a long-time hot spot for auto theft, also saw a drop in car thefts during the last two months of 2023. Airport officials credited a combination of HALO cameras, additional security and new barriers.
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However, the airport's numbers don't paint a complete picture. Data from CATPA shows thieves stole a total of 689 cars from the airport last year, a 74% increase from the 396 stolen in 2022.
Gould said it's important to take the statewide drop in theft with caution.
“Even though we're talking about a really large chunk — a sizable reduction — we're still a very high-risk area — Colorado, at large — for auto theft,” said Gould.