Denver metro area hot spots for car thefts

Julia Carter, a new mom, had her car stolen in less than 30 minutes while she went inside an Aurora Walmart for baby formula.

“I had my daughter’s car seat in there, her stroller. Walk out, and the car’s gone. I almost had a panic attack,” she said.

Carter’s story is one shared by many across the Denver metro area.

“Car thefts are significantly increasing. It’s prolific, troublesome,” said Lakewood Police Cmdr. Mike Greenwell, who leads the Colorado Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force (CMATT). “Whatever we’re doing isn’t working.”

Colorado is notoriously No. 1 in the nation for car thefts, with more cars stolen per capita than any other state in the country, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

“We are outranking California at this point,” Greenwell said.

Denver7 Investigates dug into the data provided by CMATT and found car thefts are up 173% in the past three years and there are definite hot spots where cars are much more likely to be stolen.

Auto Theft Hot Spots in the Denver Metro

Data analysis uncovered five key hot spots and one common denominator with all of them. Thieves like to steal cars from apartment complexes and large parking garages.

“Because there’s a larger concentration of vehicles. There’s less likelihood that someone is going to see them,” Greenwell said.

The first hot spot the data uncovered is around Sloan’s Lake in Denver, where there is a heavy concentration of apartment complexes. In the first four months of 2022, 117 cars were stolen from this area.

WEB PIC 4.jpg

Denver7 Investigates

In the first four months of 2022, 117 cars were stolen from the Sloan’s Lake area.

Lower Downtown between 14th St. and 19th St. also showed up as a hot spot. Here, again, there are a lot of parking garages and more than 100 cars stolen in the same time frame.

Denver International Airport and the hotels around Tower Road are also prime targets for car thieves. One-hundred five cars were stolen from January to April of this year.

“Six miles around the airport has always been somewhat of a hotspot,” Greenwell said.

WEB PIC 3.jpg

Denver7 Investigates

Parking lots for Denver International Airport have become a prime target for car thieves.

Denver Police Department data shows auto theft reports at DIA have more than doubled in the past three years.

“And the reason for that is thieves now know that a lot of our unsuspecting victims drive to these hotels, drive to the airport, and they’re gone for more than 24 hours,” Greenwell said.

Lakewood’s Belmar Shopping Center is also near the top of the list for motor vehicle thefts, with 81, as does Aurora’s City Center, where 56 cars have been snatched since January.

Auto thefts in Denver and Colorado | 360 In-Depth dives into the numbers

Law enforcement says harsher penalties needed

“We have fewer people going to jail for auto theft,” Greenwell said. “There’s no ramifications to the auto thief for stealing that car.”

Greenwell said lawmakers have watered down the penalties for auto theft and allowed the criminals who are caught to walk within days, if not hours, of being arrested. Catalytic converter thefts have also become a massive problem in the metro area.

MORE: As car thefts explode in Colorado, Aurora forced to pull officers from statewide auto theft task force

“We have one suspect that we talked with, and he said he steals anywhere from one to 10 cars a day because he can,” he said.

Greenwell is calling on lawmakers to act and prevent Coloradans from being victimized. An Aurora City Councilman recently introduced an ordinance to create mandatory jail time for motor vehicle theft.

Victims take matters into their own hands

Victims like Carter, frustrated with the police response, have turned to the public Facebook page called Colorado Stolen Cars to find her missing Hyundai.

“If it wasn’t for that page, I don’t think my car would have been found. That page is doing so much for the community,” Carter said.

MORE: Catalytic converter thefts: What cars are being targeted, where it’s happening, & how to protect yourself

With the help of the Facebook page, Carter found her car in Denver, miles away from the Walmart where it was stolen.

“You never think your car is going to get stolen until it actually happens to you,” she said.

You May Also Like

Nicola Bulley 'woman in yellow' witness 'abused' as police issue statement

It comes after Lancashire Police issued a witness appeal while investigating the…

Missing Indiana Woman’s Husband Coming Back to Face Gun Charge

Xavier Breland has been in jail for stalking his ex-wife since shortly…

Child Pornographer Hires Hitman to Kill 14-Year-old Victim for $20K in Bitcoin: Prosecutors

A New Jersey man pleaded guilty this week to paying $20,000 in…

1 Dead, 1 Injured In Tampa Shell Gas Station Carjacking

TAMPA, Fla. – The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a fatal…

Championship round-up: Widnes Vikings land eye-catching win as Halifax Panthers survive scare

The Championship made its return and no time was spared when it…

Nicola Bulley latest as police say 'no evidence of a slip or a fall' where mum of two vanished

Officers investigating the case said there was no evidence to support this…

Win tickets to 2023 Daytona Speedweeks events

Speedweeks is the kickoff to the NASCAR season with an action-packed schedule…

Missing Nicola Bulley’s daughters attend clubs and a sleepover in bid to keep ‘sense of routine’

Everyone was trying their best yesterday to keep things as normal as…

Shooting death under investigation in Olar, S.C.

BAMBERG COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – Authorities in Bamberg County are investigating a…

Kirklees council says £70m plans may still go ahead despite government snub

The government rejected three key schemes but there is still hope for…

Police 'very concerned' for missing woman from York who hasn't been seen for several days

Police believe she may be in London after a bag belonging to…

GOP lawmakers critical of Biden’s handling of Chinese balloon

() — One day after American fighter jets shot down a Chinese…