(The Center Square) – A group of 13 people who allegedly stole 59 vehicles in the Denver metro area have been indicted on 121 counts.
The indictment from a 17th Judicial District grand jury stem from a investigation by the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority’s Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force and other law enforcement agencies, including Colorado State Patrol. Authorities say the auto thefts and burglaries happened at Denver International Airport lots, as well as in Adams County and elsewhere around the Denver metro area.
The group targeted Ford F-150 Raptors, Jeep Grand Cherokees, Dodge Challengers and Dodge Chargers between February 2022 to March 2023, allegedly using equipment to reprogram key fobs in order to get into the vehicles before disabling GPS devices. The group also allegedly used some of the stolen vehicles to crash into businesses that had ATMs.
The counts include racketeering, burglary, aggravated motor vehicle theft and theft. Four of the defendants are still at large, according to the DA’s office, with one of them being at large in Mexico. Nine are in custody, with one of them in custody in Mexico.
“Thieves continue to steal cars at alarming rates in Colorado, but particularly at Denver International Airport and the lots that surround it,” District Attorney Brian Mason said in a statement. “This group allegedly targeted our airport and used stolen vehicles to terrorize businesses in my jurisdiction and beyond.”
“I’m certain that this indictment will send a message to all who target vulnerable travelers at DIA,” he added. “This behavior will not be tolerated, and we will pursue justice with all the law enforcement and prosecutorial power we have to deter it.”
In 2020 and 2021, Colorado had the highest auto theft rate in the country, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
The state’s auto theft rate has gone up 233% since 2014, a report by the Common Sense Institute found.