Colorado motor vehicle theft numbers have come crashing down, with a reduction by nearly two-thirds in 2011 from the highpoint year of 2005 when more …
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Colorado motor vehicle theft numbers have come crashing down, with a reduction by nearly two-thirds in 2011 from the highpoint year of 2005 when more than 26,000 vehicles were stolen, says the director of the year-old Auto Theft Intelligence Center (ATICC), Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Rich Smith.
In 2005 Colorado’s motor vehicle theft rate placed the state among the top 15 states for auto theft. Preliminary figures for 2011 show that 9,311 vehicles were stolen last year. The list includes all types of motor vehicles, including farm and construction equipment.
States with the highest theft rates tend to be located in the southwestern regions of the United States.
“Nevertheless, a Colorado resident is twice as likely to have a car stolen as a resident of New York City,” said Sgt. Rich Smith.
January and March represent peak months for auto thefts, he said. “That’s because Coloradans continue to start their vehicles to get them warmed up and then leave them unattended.”
Using the same data analysis techniques as those developed by the Colorado Information Analysis Center to identify possible signs of terrorism, ATICC created a similar approach to studying the state’s vehicle thefts. Since it was launched in January 2011 by a grant from the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority of the State Patrol, ATICC has also determined that:
• Regional auto theft task forces have been successful in apprehending the typical auto thief—the joy riders who take a car for short periods of other criminal activity.
• Chronic, repeat offenders engage in additional serious crimes such as burglaries and robberies using stolen vehicles. These offenders remain the highest priority to ATICC and local law enforcement. ATICC says 75 percent of stolen vehicles were involved in other subsequent crimes.
• Weekends (Thursday night through Sunday) show a slight peak in thefts.
• Vehicles stolen from banks, hospitals, drug stores and doctors’ offices are almost always recovered. Thefts from a field, park, rental storage lot, construction site and lakefront have the lowest recovery rates.
• The most likely vehicles to be stolen in Colorado are Honda Accords, Honda Civics and Acura Integras, due to easily-defeated factory security systems, the high demand for parts for damaged vehicles, and the high degree of parts interchangeability.
• Older vehicles generally are stolen more frequently, partly because newer vehicles have improved security features. The exception is motorcycles. Newer motorcycles, especially sports bikes, are stolen more frequently than older ones. Motorcycles are stolen by a thief simply hauling off a motorcycle in a van or on a truck.
• Vehicles that don’t have both license plates are more frequent targets for theft. These include cars that have a missing plate, scooters, motorcycles, and construction and farm equipment.
• Highest theft rates occur in the counties of Denver, Adams and El Paso.
Sgt. Smith said ATICC and the State Patrol recommend the following for preventing vehicle thefts:
• Install a theft system such as LoJack or similar device or alarm, especially on newer motorcycles. Etch identification numbers on windows. Use a steering wheel lock.
• Construction and farm equipment should have additional identification numbers in concealed areas, and obvious company logos should be painted on equipment. Additional identification numbers on ATVs, trailers and snowmobiles are a good idea.
Finally, citizens play an important role in reporting suspicious behavior to law enforcement agencies.
“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.”
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