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Report: Colorado auto theft down 21% last year after 98% rise from 2018 to 2022

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(The Center Square) – Reported auto thefts in Colorado decreased by 21% in 2023, amounting to 8,680 fewer thefts than the previous year, according to an annual report from state agencies.

“While incidents of auto theft remain high, comparatively to a national average, Coloradans across the state have stepped up to stop auto theft,” said a media release announcing the report by the Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center. The center, started in 2011, is a crime and intelligence analytical unit of the Colorado State Patrol, which is part of the Department of Public Safety.

The report said the 32,976 stolen vehicles in 2023 had an estimated value of $430 million. The report used a “fair market value” to calculate the average value of the top four most-stolen vehicle makes and models, which resulted in a value of $13,067 per vehicle.

“This method of valuing the loss of a stolen vehicle should not be considered as an economic loss, as it does not consider the loss to the insurance industry, or economic impact to a victim’s lost wages, tow or impound fees, etc.,” the report stated.

The report cited changes in legislation, law enforcement strategy and efforts by the public to secure their vehicles contributed to the decrease.

“Despite these positive trends we cannot stress enough, now is no time to become relaxed with vehicle security,” the news release said. “Continued public engagement and action is paramount to continued reduction of auto theft statewide.”

During the five-year period from 2018 to 2022, Colorado had a 98% increase in vehicles reported stolen. This year’s report found 51% of reported stolen vehicles were recovered outside the municipality where the theft occurred.

Of the 4,763 auto theft cases examined, 76% involved additional criminal charges related to the incident. The report found 12% or 563 auto theft cases had other charges associated with violent crimes linked to the theft. More than 90% of charges related to motor vehicle theft and attempted theft were felony charges.

The report noted the enactment of Senate Bill 23-097 last summer.

“The bill decouples the cost value of a stolen vehicle from the criminal penalty and imposes increased penalties for repeat auto theft offenders,” according to the report. “The legislation reclassifies stealing any vehicle, regardless of value, as a Class 5 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison, a fine between $1,000 to $100,000, or both.”

The Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Silverado had the highest number of thefts. Vehicles manufactured by Hyundai and Kia accounted for 23% of the 7,722 reported thefts.

The center acknowledged how certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles can be stolen by exploiting vehicle security systems.

“Owners of Hyundai and Kia vehicles should contact the manufacturer to determine if their vehicle is eligible for a vehicle software security upgrade,” the report said.

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