Murder, rape, assault, vehicle theft rates up in Colorado

DENVER -- Colorado's crime rate went up 5.5 percent in one year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

The 2016 Crime in Colorado Report shows the number of major crimes that were reported, including homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, other (simple) assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

There were increases in every category, with notable upticks in the number of homicides, rapes and aggravated assaults.

The category that saw the biggest increase was motor vehicle theft, which went up 22 percent in one year.

(Colorado Bureau of Investigation)

As the overall crime rate went up 5.5 percent, the number of arrests went up 0.4 percent. With 203,765 major crimes reported, there were 56,430 arrests.

There were 155 arrests made for homicides compared to 189 reports.

For rape, assault and auto theft, the number of arrests is significantly lower than the number of incidents reported, according to the report.

In 2016, there were 480 rape arrests compared to 3,512 reports; there were 23,504 assault arrests compared to 46,833 reports; and there were 2,705 auto theft arrests compared to 19,430 reports.

Police say an increase in vehicle thefts helps  fuel other crimes. Most of the vehicle thefts -- 4,784 -- happened in Denver, followed by Colorado Springs (2,062), Aurora (1,538), Pueblo (1,169) and Lakewood (1,010).

"So often we think of auto theft as kids out joyriding, a victimless crime. We are seeing all these serious violent crimes involved with auto theft," said Carole Walker with Coloradans Against Auto Theft.

"So as we are seeing an increase in drug trafficking, opioid use,  gun involvement."

She said eventually motor vehicle theft drives up costs for everyone.

"It's contributing to what we pay for car insurance. It really is something we want to engage the public on," Walker said. "We want them to see these numbers and do everything they can to not make selves an easy target."

On Nov. 19, Kole Silz said surveillance video captured a thief stealing his customized F-250 from underneath his nose at work in Wheat Ridge.

"I couldn't really believe it, until I looked at the cameras," he said.

Silz, who ended up finding his truck on his own a month later, now has it alarmed to the hilt.

"Once the truck is armed, if you touch it, it sets the alarm off," he said.

The thief had spray-painted over a blue stripe on the truck to disguise it and put about 1,000 miles on it in one month.

"They could have been running drugs or maybe using my truck to steal another truck with a trailer. I definitely think it was not for driving around," he said.

Walker said people can avoid being a victim by doing common sense things, including locking vehicles, not letting it run when it's vacant not leaving a spare key in it and parking it in well-lit, well-traveled areas.

The 2016 Crime in Colorado report includes statewide crime statistics reported by 244 law enforcement agencies across the state.

The report provides statistics on major crime trends, but the CBI does not offer analysis as to the reasons for changes in the crime rates.