DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado is now the car theft capital of the country. New numbers from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation show 2022 was a record year for auto thefts in Colorado, with more than 45,000.
Democrats and Republicans are coming together on Monday to unveil a bill in the hopes to deter auto theft. “Colorado Point of View” got exclusive details before that bill is introduced.
Felonies for auto theft worth less $2,000
Law enforcement, prosecutors and lawmakers worked together on the bill. One sponsor, State Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, a Democrat who represents Adams and Jefferson counties, said the bill will make any auto theft a felony. Under current Colorado law, an auto theft of a vehicle worth less than $2,000 is only a misdemeanor.
“If I were a criminal and I knew I would not be charged a felony for a vehicle that is under $2,000, I probably would target those cars because I know I would not have any consequences for that,” Zenzinger said.
The bill also would allow prosecutors to adjust sentencing for criminals who are repeat auto offenders, according to Zenzinger. It will also increase the penalty if auto thieves commit other crimes after stealing a vehicle.
Making the law ‘more fair’ to auto theft victims
18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner said he fully supports this new bill. But he made it clear this is only the first step in trying to stop the increase in auto theft in Colorado.
“This bill is going to go a little way toward giving law enforcement tools for us to hold these people more accountable, but it’s not going to solve this problem,” Kellner said. “Whether or not car thieves are actually looking up the Kelley Blue Book value of a car before they steal it, that’s not happening. What we’re doing here is making this justice system more just and more fair to the victims of these crimes.”
Learn more details about this upcoming bill on “Colorado Point of View” this Sunday at 7:30 a.m. on Colorado’s Very Own Channel 2.