While it remains one of the active states in terms of auto thefts, the number of cars stolen in Colorado has dropped sharply in the past six years, according to figures released Tuesday by the Colorado State Patrol.
The number of motor vehicles stolen in the state has dropped by nearly two-thirds from the totals of 2005 to 2011, according to Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Rich Smith, the director of the state’s one-year-old Auto Theft Intelligence Center (ATICC).
Smith said that preliminary totals for 2011 show that 9,311 cars were stolen that year, a total that included farm and construction vehicles. That total represents a sharp drop from the 2005 figures for motor vehicle thefts in Colorado when more than 26,000 cars were stolen.
Despite the sharp drop, Colorado and the Southwest region of the United States in general remain high on the auto theft list.
“Nevertheless, a Colorado resident is twice as likely to have a car stolen as a resident of New York City,” said Sgt. Smith.
The data analysis technique used by the ATICC, which was launched in 2011, is the same one used by the Colorado Information Analysis Center to identify terrorism signs.
January and March are the peak months for auto thefts in the state, Sgt. Smith said, “because Coloradans continue to start their vehicles to get them warmed up and then leave them unattended.”
Other auto theft-related trends identified by the ATICC include:
- Weekends, particularly Thursday night through Sunday, are a slightly more popular time for car thieves to strike than the rest of the week.
- Vehicles that are stolen from banks, hospitals, doctors’ offices and drug stores are almost always recovered. However, vehicles stolen from field, parks, rental storage lots, construction sites and lakefronts are rarely recovered.
- The most popular cars stolen in Colorado at Honda Accords and Civics and Acura Integras. The ATICC said these cards are high on the list of car thieves because their factory security systems are easily defeated and parts are in high demand for damaged vehicles and are easily interchanged.
- Older vehicles are stolen most often because the security systems on newer vehicles have been improved in recent years. Conversely, newer motorcycles are stolen more often than older one because motorcycles can simply be put into the back of a van or truck.
- Vehicles that only have one license plate, including scooters, motorcycles, construction vehicles and farm equipment are more frequent theft targets.
- The most vehicle thefts in Colorado occurred in the Denver, Adams and El Paso counties.
- Approximately 75 percent of stolen vehicles are later used by thieves to commit other crimes, including burglaries and robberies.
Sgt. Smith said owners can take measures to prevent the likelihood of their vehicle being stolen by installing an anti-theft system such as LoJack, particularly owners of motorcycles. He recommends owners etch the identification numbers on the windows and use a steering wheel locking system. Owners of construction and farm equipment should also etch ID numbers in concealed areas on the vehicle and company logos should also be painted on the equipment.
“We intend to work to bring down vehicle theft even more,” Sgt. Smith said. “Each theft typically results in a direct, average cash loss of more than $6,000-a loss to owners and insurance companies.”