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Denver Police Pilot New Auto Theft Prevention

The morning of the Denver Nuggets’ parade celebrating their win in the NBA Finals, Antioni Parker had a pit in his stomach. During their one-night stay in Denver, he and his family became among the dozens who fall victim to auto theft in the metro area every day.

“I went downstairs to get the car, and I couldn’t find it,” Parker said. “We had three months’ worth of stuff packed in there and lost it all.” 

Parker, his wife Heather, and their two children had been driving from their home in Georgia to visit family in Utah, planning to stay one night at the Cambria Hotel just outside Denver International Airport. Their car was parked in the first spot near the hotel entrance, only to be broken into and stolen that evening.

But the Denver Police Department is introducing a new program as part of its Denver Auto Theft Team to help prevent bad experiences like Parker’s. DenverTrack is the key feature of a pilot program in which vehicle owners allow DPD access to their car’s GPS in the event that it is stolen. 

“It wasn’t a sketchy area,” Parker said. “It’s still shocking how easy it happened.”

Another guest at the hotel got a video of the incident, which shows the three minutes it took for the perpetrator to enter the car and drive away. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that the car was found next to three other stolen Kia vehicles. It had been taken to an impound lot, nearly emptied of the Parkers’ personal possessions and missing parts.

“I had my golf clubs and my wife lost her wedding ring. She and the kids had their Native regalia inside too,” Parker said. “It was devastating.”

The Parkers’ experience rings similar to many Colorado visitors and residents alike. The state has led the nation in auto theft cases since 2021. Additionally, Denver International Airport remains the number one location for car thefts in the state. With the capacity to hold nearly 30,000 vehicles, over 800 have been stolen since the start of the year.

“Our biggest issue is staffing,” said Commander Jacob Herrera with the Denver Police Department. “We are not close to the authorized strength that allows us to patrol at the level we need. The DenverTrack program helps expand our reach.”

The GPS tracking is only activated once the car is reported stolen, and participants can opt out and remove access at any time. Enrollment in DenverTrack also comes with a sticker to place in the car window, another deterrent for theft. The program has seen notable success in the first few months.

“In June alone, car theft decreased by 18%,” Herrera said. “This translates to about 1200 less stolen cars.” 

As of July 1st, Colorado law also increased the penalties for those found guilty of auto theft by making all car theft and subsequent offenses a felony, no matter what vehicle value may be. 

“At some point, the punishment for auto theft went down to a misdemeanor, which means that there are a lot of repeat criminals,” Herrera said. “At one point, we were catching the same guy every month for stealing cars.”

Going forward, the DPD will continue to seek funding to distribute more Apple AirTags and increase investigative efforts. But between a new program and policy changes, they hope to keep auto thefts from getting out of control.  

To enroll your vehicle and get more information about the Denver Track program, click here.

Latest comment

  • We park out here by dia in ou r RV. We see these same guys every we’d and Friday stealing cars and trucks. Sometimes we can run them off before they get one. But they really have no fear. They have guns. We have videos of them. We even have their info. I have called dps to let them know, but no one ever shows up. I had my motorcycle and trailer stolen in Jan from the home depot parking lot while I was in my RV. They are ruthless and have no fear. They are part of the migrants coming in from Mexico. They have trucks empty and parked a short distance away. They load up the semi trucks and take them to Mexico to sell.

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