Denver metro’s car thefts doubled during 2020

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Glenarm Place between 17th and 18th streets in downtown Denver was closed as police sought an auto theft suspect on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.

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DENVER (KDVR) — Shootings and homicides aren’t the only crimes going up in the Denver metro area.

According to a regional team of law enforcement specialists, the auto theft rate in Colorado — and in particular the Denver metro area — blew past the national average in a year when auto theft was surging everywhere.

Colorado’s Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force investigates auto theft with law enforcement agencies representing all seven counties in the Denver metro area: Jefferson and Arapahoe counties sheriffs; Denver, Aurora, Wheat Ridge and Lakewood police departments and the Colorado State Patrol.

In a report, the task force details Denver metro car theft doubled from Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31.

Before the pandemic, car theft had been level in Colorado and in the Denver metro. It spiked after lockdown began March 15, 2020.

This increase in Colorado after the pandemic lockdowns began matches a pattern seen all across the nation.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau compiled data that shows 2020 was the largest auto theft year of the last decade by a long shot. Thefts increased every month over the previous year.

National auto thefts increased by 9% overall from 2019 to 2020. The rise began just after many governors called the first pandemic lockdowns. After April, every month saw a substantial year-over-year increase.

Depending on final numbers, Denver’s metro rate might edge Colorado entirely upward in national rankings where it already ranks highly.

Between 2014 and 2018, Colorado was already near the top of the list for states with the highest car theft rates.

Criminals stole 359 vehicles in Colorado per every 100,000 Coloradans, meaning roughly 1 in 300 Coloradans experienced vehicle theft in the pre-pandemic years.

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