Jan 25, 2024 - News

Auto thefts drop at Denver's airport and across Colorado with new security measures underway

Data: Denver International Airport, Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority; Chart: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios
Data: Denver International Airport, Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority; Chart: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

Good news for people parking at Denver International Airport: Your car is now a little less likely to have an unauthorized takeoff.

What's happening: Following major spikes in auto thefts on airport grounds last summer, the rate of car-napping appears to have dropped significantly for the last two months after airport officials ramped up new safety measures. Those include:

  • Adding nearly a dozen surveillance cameras and increasing the presence of security officers;
  • Building concrete barriers to prevent thieves from exiting easily;
  • Installing technology that tells security when stolen vehicles enter certain locations.

By the numbers: DIA's vehicle theft peaked last July with a rate of five incidents per 1,000 vehicles, or 112 cars total, and dropped in December to just 10 cars, an Axios analysis found.

Driving the news: On Thursday, Mayor Mike Johnston will announce a new initiative that builds on the city's broader auto theft strategy, which included the police department's Auto Theft Investigations Team that launched as a pilot in mid-2023.

  • The goal is "doubling down on public safety" and rolling out "the most aggressive strategy" in the region on car theft prevention, Johnston said at an event hosted by the Denver Business Journal on Wednesday.

Zoom out: A new report published Thursday by the Council on Criminal Justice found motor vehicle theft in Denver dropped 19% in 2023 compared to 2022, the third-largest decrease among 38 major cities analyzed.

  • Statewide, auto theft dropped even further, by 21%, according to the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority.

The big picture: Colorado's car heists — which have outpaced every other state and grown more violent in recent years — are falling in the wake of state lawmakers passing bills last year that put $5 million toward auto theft prevention programs and made it a felony for repeat offenders.

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