About 97 percent of suspected thieves face charges for additional crimes such as reckless driving that leads to car accidents and robbery.

Report Stolen Vehicles Promptly to Stay Clear of Thieves’ Mayhem

Would you ever help a criminal rob people at gunpoint, buy and sell drugs, or commit a violent home invasion? No? But there’s a chance you might, every time you leave your car unlocked, maybe leave the keys inside, or even leave the motor running in your driveway on a cold winter morning.

If your car is stolen, chances are good that it will be used by the thief to commit other crimes, according to Coloradans Against Auto Theft, a coalition of law enforcement agencies, insurance industry partners, LoJack, and AAA Colorado.

Each week, an average of about 347 cars and trucks are stolen in the Centennial State. And each theft has the potential to enable other, violent, crimes — a domino effect that might have started with your carelessness.

About 97 percent of people arrested for car theft end up facing charges for other crimes, according to Carole Walker, the organization’s chairwoman and executive of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

“Colorado’s crime rate is on the rise, and that includes a significant increase in auto theft, which often is involved in other crimes,” Colorado State Patrol chief, Col. Scott Hernandez said.

By taking sensible steps to prevent theft, drivers can help to reduce these violent crimes, he said. Car and truck thefts normally begin increasing each July and rise through December, so the State Patrol and other participants are campaigning to have drivers change their habits now.

Car-Theft Risk Often Underestimated

In 2016, thieves stole 18,047 vehicles across Colorado: 20 percent more than in 2015, and 55 percent more than in 2014, according to the Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center, which reports annually on car-theft trends.

Some of its findings: Friday and Monday were the most likely days for car thefts in Colorado in 2016, while Sunday was the slowest. The most common places for cars to be stolen is from residences and parking lots, including garages.

The report also cited the National Insurance Crime Bureau‘s recent analysis showing that in 2016 Pueblo, Colorado, had the second-highest rate of car thefts (for its population) in the United States.

Walker, the industry spokeswoman, said:

“Most people think, ‘It will never happen to me,’ but data shows that 48 percent of Coloradans know someone who has had their car stolen. Auto theft is not a victimless crime and impacts the community beyond the stolen vehicle itself.”

Denver Car Thefts Increasing

Denver counted 454 motor vehicle thefts in July 2017, edging over July 2016, when 447 were stolen, according to The Denver Post‘s motor vehicle theft report, updated July 27. Colorado’s largest city has had 2,681 vehicle thefts so far this year, an average of 393.7 per month (13 a day), compared with 391.3 per month in 2016 and 361.7 per month in 2015.

How to Discourage Car Thieves

  • Don’t leave your car running while you’re not with it, even to warm the engine in the winter.
  • Always, always lock your doors.
  • Do not keep weapons such as firearms in your car.
  • Pick only well-lighted places to park.
  • Do not leave spare keys inside of the car.
  • Do not leave purses, phones, or any valuable in plain view.
  • Know that only comprehensive insurance coverage will replace a stolen vehicle.
  • If you see suspicious activity, reported it to police on a non-emergency line.

Colorado Theft Victims Are Vulnerable in Other Ways

If your car is stolen, you should remember to make three phone calls. Call 911 and file a police report immediately. As the thief may be committing other crimes and creating havoc in your vehicle, it’s critical that you are prompt in reporting the car missing.

Secondly, contact your insurance carrier. The sooner you report the loss, the sooner the insurer can make you whole again.

Following the report to the police and your insurance provider, consider reaching out to a Colorado personal injury attorney who can give you an element of protection and leverage if the theft caused damage to your car, if it is never recovered or if it becomes involved in an auto accident. If your insurer refuses coverage, your attorney will know whom to call.

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