The Rise of Auto Theft in Denver
It may surprise you to learn that a person living in Colorado is twice as likely to have their car stolen as a person living in New York City. According to the Colorado State Patrol, Denver has five thefts per 1,000 cars and a surprisingly large number of those thefts are carried out for the purpose of committing more serious crimes.
Car theft is an increasingly common crime throughout the United States and four of the top five auto theft hot spots statewide are in the Denver area. Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Lakewood and Adams County have all been targeted by Colorado State Patrol for the shockingly high number of thefts that occur in that area. In fact, more than 11,000 car thefts occurred in 2010 in Colorado, costing the state somewhere around $72 million in losses. These costs are passed on to consumers, who pay more for the most commonly stolen items.
Under the federal law, motor vehicle theft is defined as theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. In addition to automobiles, this category of crime can also include trucks, buses, motorcycles, snowmobiles and more. The Colorado State Patrol has started using lessons and techniques learned in fighting terrorism to combat auto theft throughout the state. This includes using a system to track auto-theft trends and to anticipate where the next crime will occur.
One of the main reasons that auto theft is such as big deal is that thieves typically use the stolen vehicles to commit more serious crimes like assault, robbery or even homicide. Organized retail crime rings will also use stolen trucks and cars to transport their stolen goods, and statistics show that 75% of stolen cars are involved in another crime. The three most commonly stolen cars in Colorado are the 2000 Honda Civic, 1996 Honda Accord, and 1995 Acura Integra.
According to a state prosecutor, one out of every five cases that she prosecutes involves auto theft. The high number of auto theft cases that are being tried in court may be the result of a nationwide program that is available for Southern Colorado drivers called the Watch Your Car Program. This is a free program that gives drivers two stickers to put on the front and rear of their vehicle. Since the majority of cars are stolen between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., these stickers allow police officers to stop the car between those hours to make sure the approved driver is behind the wheel.
Another new legislation, Colorado House Bill 12-1304, is moving quickly through the Colorado legislature and is aimed at cracking down on shoplifting rings throughout the nation. This is partly because auto theft has been directly linked to the organized retail crime that costs Colorado retailers $500 million every year and millions more in lost tax revenue. If you are caught driving a stolen car and charged with auto theft, you must be aware that the penalties are very severe.
Even a charge for second-degree aggravated theft of a motor vehicle will result in a felony offense unless the value of the vehicle is less than $1,000. The penalties for second-degree aggravated motor theft include up to 3 years in prison, and this number jumps drastically when one is charged with first-degree aggravated motor theft. This is classified as a Class 3 or Class 4 felony depending on the value of the stolen property, and you may be penalized with a prison sentence of up to 12 years in prison with a mandatory parole term of 5 years after release. It is vitally important to obtain the help of a talented Denver criminal defense lawyer if you have been suspected or accused of auto theft. Building a strong defense against your charges is the only way to avoid life-changing penalties.