Every year, the elected DAs in Colorado chose four to five high-priority bills to run as a group with unanimous support, according to the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council. This year, the top priority will be amending the auto theft statute in the state.
Car thefts have been rising consistently since 2014 in Colorado, the same year a bill was signed into law that scaled the penalty for certain crimes, including motor vehicle theft, based on the value.
The new push from Colorado DAs would make motor vehicle theft a felony, regardless of value.
“A car that’s $22,000 is treated differently than a car that’s $2,000,” 20th Judicial District Attorney Michael Dougherty, of Boulder, said. “But if you think of the practical impact of that, particularly a single parent who is driving kids to school and then heading off to work, losing that one car has a devastating impact on them.”
Dougherty said that while the current statute carries heavier penalties for repeat offenders, harshening those penalties could be on the table. The bill is still being crafted, according to a spokesperson for CDAC.
But Dougherty acknowledged that just harshening penalties won’t make the problem go away. Colorado cities including Denver, Aurora, Pueblo and Westminster are among the top 10 cities in the country for car theft. Dougherty said making sure police departments have the resources to investigate and catch the thieves is another piece of the puzzle.