AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Auto theft is on the rise, increasing 20% across the nation, according to a QuoteWizard study.

One Aurora resident, Sheila, who declined to use her last name, told FOX31 her 2019 Hyundai Elantra was stolen from her apartment parking lot three times since July of 2021.

“I’m exhausted because it costs me money, I have to figure out how to take my daughter to school, how can I work — it’s just a lot,” she said.

What’s the most-stolen vehicle in Colorado?

A QuoteWizard study shows 524 out of every 100,000 cars are stolen, with the No. 1 choice for thieves in Colorado being Ford pick-up trucks.

Greeley tops the list, with a 136% increase over the past year.

Interim Aurora Police Chief Art Acevedo announced new efforts to crack down on auto theft near 17th Place and Laredo Street, an area often targeted by car thieves.

“We actually arrested in this neighborhood a known, prolific auto thief,” he said.

Acevedo said crooks must fear harsh penalties.

“We’re going to do everything we can to charge you federally with engaging in organized criminal activity,” he said.

The interim chief emphasized that young offenders should have access to the assistance they need to turn their lives around, residents play an important role in supporting community safety efforts and police must be held accountable.

“If you call 911 and you believe that we didn’t respond in the time it should have taken, if you believe it was a crime in progress and we didn’t get there for two or three hours, I want to know about it,” Acevedo said.

Problem solved

Sheila contacted the Problem Solvers after learning her insurance company would not pay for a new car after hers was damaged by the thieves.

FOX31 contacted the insurance provider, which quickly contacted Sheila with good news.

“Within like two hours, they’re like, ‘Oh, we had it appraised, it’s totaled out, and we’ll get everything taken care of with the next two days.’ I feel excited, I feel happy, I feel relieved,” she said.

Police advise drivers to park in well lit areas, remove all belongings from the car, lock doors and windows and report crimes immediately.