DENVER (KDVR) — Over the last month, Denver police have reported almost three auto thefts or theft from vehicles per square mile around Denver International Airport.

Some of those thefts have been from vehicles left at parking lots on and off​ the airport grounds.

Danny Rudolph told FOX31 he parked his car at a lot he’d been to before only to discover it was the target of thieves now taking their crimes to the airport and areas around it.

“It was April 20 to the 27th,” Rudolph said. “I felt fine. I’d had success in the past doing this, leaving my car there and taking the hotel shuttle to the airport.”

Back from a vacation in Honduras, that shuttle took him back to his car, at which he and his family loaded up their bags.

“As soon as I sat in it and turned the car on, as soon as it started, it was very rough and very, very, very loud,” Rudolph said.

A welder by trade, Rudolph said his initial assumption was that he’d been targeted by thieves.

“I got down on my knees and looked underneath the car where the catalytic converter would be located to find two very clean cuts,” Rudolph said.

He knew auto thefts and theft from vehicles occur in Denver proper, but Rudolph said, who lives in Steamboat, said he never thought it would happen at a lot near the airport.

“I immediately knew that I had gotten my converter stolen, that I was just another statistic,” Rudolph said.

How to help avoid catalytic converter theft

In fact, he’s part of a growing trend of thefts near the airport.

According to statistics from Denver’s Police Department, over the last month alone, 121 auto thefts and thefts from vehicles have been reported.

FOX31 reached out to DIA for comment on this situation and they offered the following tips for keeping your vehicle safe if you’re parking at or around the airport:

  • Lock your car, keep your windows up and always take your keys with you
  • Don’t keep valuables or spare keys inside them
  • Never leave your car running even for a short period
  • Park in a well-lit area
  • Use an alarm system or wheel lock device