Denver police: ‘Puffer’ vehicle thefts on the rise this year

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DENVER (KDVR) – The Denver Police Department is reminding vehicle owners — despite the cold temperatures — to not leave their cars running unattended. 

As of Thursday, DPD reported there have been 35 reports of stolen puffers in February.

The term “puffer” refers to a car that is left warming up or cooling down while the owner isn’t around. Puffing your car in Colorado is illegal because law makers said it leaves cars vulnerable to theft. 

In the winter, it’s often easier to spot puffer vehicles due to visible exhaust.

“During the cold, we do see an increase due to people wanting to warm up their vehicles,” Jay Casillas with DPD said. 

Margarita Vargas is a recent victim to puffer theft. She said went outside and turned her car on, went back inside for two minutes and came back outside to her car missing. 

“In all honesty, I feel like an idiot. It is my fault I left my car unattended when I shouldn’t have,” Vargas said. 

She described two women as the thieves. She said they drove by in a gray minivan, then turned into her apartment parking lot. She said one of the women got out of the van and ran to the driver’s side of her 2015 Ford Fiesta. 

The red sedan was stolen from near Lowell Boulevard and Byron Place. It has Colorado license plates CCO-018.

Vargas said it’s a lesson learned, and she won’t leave her car puffing again. 

“It doesn’t matter if you freeze; it’s better to freeze than having a missing car,” Vargas said.  

Vargas said she didn’t receive a ticket for puffing but according to Colorado law, people caught puffing could receive a fine of $60.

“I never thought someone would just roll up and take my car like that,” Vargas said. 

If you see her car, you are asked to contact police at 911 or 720-913-2000.  

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