Going…Going…Gone: Basic Security Practices to Fight Auto Theft

March 25th, 2024





Cale Gould

CATPA Program Assistant II

Statewide Public Outreach Coordinator 

Work (303) 656 1524

cale.gould@state.co.us | cdps_catpa@state.co.us

Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority Launches

“Going. Going. Gone.” Campaign to Combat Auto Theft

DENVER, March 25 — With the rise of auto theft incidents, the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority recognizes the critical need for proactive measures. In just 18 seconds, a vehicle can vanish. A new initiative, the “Going. Going. Gone.” Auto Theft Awareness Campaign aims to raise awareness, educate residents, and ultimately decrease the alarming rate of auto theft across the state.

“Our goal is to bring awareness and educate the market on the serious auto theft concerns in Colorado,” said Cale Gould, Statewide Public Outreach Coordinator, Department of Public Safety. “With more than 600 cars stolen each week, Colorado holds the unfortunate distinction of having the highest number of stolen cars per capita in the nation. We are committed to reversing this trend.”

Here are some quick tips to help prevent auto theft and keep your ride safe:

  • Never leave your car running unattended.
  • Always keep your car doors locked when driving or parked.
  • Always park in well-lit areas.
  • Don’t store firearms in your car.
  • Avoid leaving documents with your address in the glove box. (Only keep half of the registration slip without your address in your car.)
  • Don’t keep a spare set of keys in the car.
  • Keep all valuables in the trunk or hidden from view.
  • If you are approached, do not roll down the windows or open a door.
  • When buying a used vehicle, always check the VIN to ensure it hasn’t been stolen. Visit NICB for more information.
  • Manage your risk- buy comprehensive insurance that covers stolen vehicles. Also, consider getting gap insurance.

Coloradans can visit the website LockDownYourCar.org, which has this information designed to equip Coloradans with essential knowledge and tools to safeguard their vehicles.

Ace Hardware stores across the state support this important campaign by promoting safety tips in store and offer special promotions for customers to help them keep their cars and homes safe.

The success of the “Going. Going. Gone.” campaign relies on collaboration with various stakeholders, including the insurance industry, vehicle manufacturers, new and used car dealers, automotive repair industry, Denver International Airport, apartment/housing complexes, RTD park and rides, and, most importantly, all Coloradans.

The campaign seeks to empower communities to combat auto theft effectively. As part of the campaign, Coloradans can anticipate engaging contests and events across the state, and also exclusive merchandise. These initiatives aim to foster community involvement and encourage active participation in auto theft prevention efforts.

For more information about the “Going. Going. Gone.” campaign and to access valuable resources, please visit LockDownYourCar.org.

Learn more about basic via security on the Resources page.


2023 Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center Annual Report

March 22nd, 2024

(COLORADO) – The Colorado State Patrol, Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center has released their annual report detailing the findings of auto theft incidents across Colorado.

Colorado Auto Theft Annual Report_2023_FOR PUBLIC RELEASE (FLAT)

Notable Findings include:

  • Colorado witnessed a substantial improvement in statewide reported stolen vehicles, registering a notable 21% decrease in reported stolen vehicles by volume in 2023, amounting to 8,680 fewer thefts, compared to reported vehicle thefts in 2022. This positive trend contrasts with the 12% increase observed in Colorado experienced 32,976 reported stolen vehicles in 2023, averaging a per capita rate of 560 stolen vehicles per 100,000 residents, compared to 41,656 reported stolen vehicles in 2022, averaging a per capita rate of 713 stolen vehicles per 100,000 residents. (1)
  • An estimated $430,897,392 of value was related to the 32,976 reported stolen vehicles in 2023. (2)
  • In a 5-year comparison from 2018 through 2022, Colorado experienced a notable 98% increase in reported stolen vehicles. However, the landscape shifted in 2023 with a significant 21% decrease in reported stolen vehicles, altering the overall five-year comparison for 2019-2023 to reflect a 62% increase in reported stolen vehicles. This reduction in 2023 played a crucial role in decelerating Colorado’s motor vehicle theft pace when compared to the earlier years of 2018-2022. (SVDR)
  • Examining the rate of reported stolen vehicles per capita over the past five (5) years reveals a 56% increase. In 2019, the rate was 358 reported stolen vehicles per 100,000 residents, rising to 560 reported stolen vehicles per 100,000 residents in 2023. (SVDR)
  • Aligning with previous reporting years, 2023 motor vehicle theft data demonstrates that 51% of reported stolen vehicles are recovered outside the municipality where the motor vehicle theft occurred, indicating the crime of motor vehicle theft is a multijurisdictional criminal event. (SVDR)
  • Insights from Colorado Courts data for 2023 reveal that out of 4,763 cases/dockets filed, 76% (3,615 cases) involved additional criminal charges related to the motor vehicle theft incident. (Courts MVT and Associated Offense Charge Data, 2020-2023)vii
  • Breaking down the 4,763 cases/dockets filed in 2023 revealed that 1,148 cases (24%) were singularly charged with motor vehicle theft. This insight is drawn from the detailed data provided by the Colorado Courts MVT and Associated Offense Charge Data for the year 2020-2023.
  • The 2023 Colorado Courts data indicates that 563 (12%) of the cases/dockets filed carried charges associated with violent crimes linked to motor vehicle theft, aligning with the definition of “Crime of Violence” as per the Colorado Revised Statute.viii
  • The charge of “F3, Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft w/Two Prior” convictions or adjudications were contained in 191 cases/dockets filed in 2023, approximately 4% of the total. (3) (4)
  • Hyundai Elantra (1332 thefts) and Chevrolet Silverado (1285 thefts) emerged as the highest volume of reported stolen vehicles. (SVDR)
  • Hyundai and Kia manufactured vehicles collectively accounted for 23% of all reported stolen vehicles in the state, totaling 7,722 out of the 32,976 vehicles stolen in 2023, as per the data provided by the SVDR.

What does this mean? Colorado has made significant strides to reducing auto theft statewide. While incidents of auto theft remain high, comparatively to a national average, Coloradans across the State have stepped up to stop auto theft. From legislative changes, law enforcement strategy changes, to the invaluable efforts made by the public everyday to secure their vehicles. Through continued partnerships we hope to help further reduce auto theft. Despite these positive trends we can not stress enough, now is no time to become relaxed with vehicle security. Continued public engagement and action is paramount to continued reduction of auto theft Statewide. For more information on stopping auto theft, learning more about auto theft trends, and to become involved with our victim’s assistance or vehicle hardening programs, please visit lockdownyourcar.org

Colorado Auto Theft Annual Report_2023_FOR PUBLIC RELEASE (FLAT)

Auto Theft Down in Colorado in 2023

January 19th, 2024

January 19, 2024


CONTACT                                                               CONTACT
Colorado State Patrol Public Affairs Office              Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority
CSP_PublicAffairs@state.co.us                              CDPS_CATPA@state.co.us
303-239-4583                                                          303-239-4560

Auto Theft Down Statewide in 2023

(COLORADO) – Halfway through 2023, the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA) and the Colorado State Patrol saw a clear decline in auto theft incidents throughout the state. We are pleased to report that trend held throughout the whole year, with Colorado seeing a reduction in auto theft of approximately 21% from 2022 to 2023. This sizeable reduction is welcome news to the many Coloradoans affected by motor vehicle theft and the many associated crimes.

The noticeable decline in auto theft in 2023 resulted in 8,000 fewer stolen vehicles than in 2022. This reduction in vehicle theft comes on the heels of sustained increases in motor vehicle theft since 2019.

So, what has changed in Colorado that’s had such a dramatic effect on auto theft incidents? A lot and everything. Legislative changes such as SB23-097, which went into effect July 1, completely changed the structure of the auto theft statute in Colorado, and SB23-257, which increased program funding for auto theft prevention programs, to a community focus from local government, law enforcement, and every Coloradoan. The general focus on reducing auto theft has stemmed across Colorado and has taken root within local communities. Colorado has shown reductions statewide and regionally, as has every CATPA region.

While a reduction in auto theft is a welcome reprieve, it does not mean that Coloradoans are in the clear from being future auto theft victims. Auto theft incidents remain at a high level, and vehicle owners should not become complacent. CATPA and the Colorado State Patrol advise all citizens that the best way to combat vehicle theft is through a dynamic approach to vehicle security, beginning with the basics, like locking your doors every time.

Coloradoans should continue efforts to reduce their risk of becoming auto theft victims and perform a self-risk assessment using tools available at lockdownyourcar.org.  A combination of public awareness and mindfulness is an essential partnership for reducing auto theft – and all crime in Colorado.


About Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA):
CATPA is a state authority that was established by Colorado statute in 2003 to help reduce Colorado’s serious auto theft problem through the award of grant funds. The Colorado law helps ensure that auto theft prevention efforts are targeted. These efforts have resulted in an increase in stolen vehicle recoveries and criminal prosecutions of major organized criminal groups, as well as related crimes.

Since our origin in 1935, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) has focused on preserving human life and protecting property within our communities. Our 1,100 members embody the core values of Honor, Duty, and Respect in their daily jobs.  In addition to our expertise in motor vehicle safety on the state’s roadways, the CSP is responsible for the Governor and other dignitaries’ protection, commercial motor vehicle enforcement, hazardous materials, homeland security, communications, investigative services, criminal interdiction, community education, aviation operations, and more. For additional information, visit us online at Colorado State Patrol or follow us on TwitterInstagram, YouTube, or Facebook.


Colorado State Patrol
On-Call Public Information Officer:  303.239.4583

Denver Man Shot Trying to Recover Stolen Vehicle

October 3rd, 2023

A Denver man was injured via a gun shot wound while trying to recover his stolen vehicle. This highlights the dangers of confronting someone in a stolen vehicle. Always contact law enforcement if you see a stolen vehicle. Full story here.

Colorado Cracks Down on Fake Temporary Registration

August 8th, 2023

A popular “Prop document” retailer in Denver has been court ordered to stop production of their documents, and has had their assets frozen. Full story here at CBS tells the story of investigative efforts by the Colorado Department of Law.

Woman Shot Attempting to Recover Her Stolen Vehicle

July 11th, 2023

A woman was shot after she discovered her 2020 Silver Kia Optima had been stolen and used an air tag to track it down Sunday night, according to the Aurora Police Department. Read the full story Here A stark reminder to never approach a stolen car without the assistance of local law enforcement.


Motor Vehicle Theft Nexus to Record Drug Bust

July 6th, 2023

Motor Vehicle Theft (MVT) has a role to play in nearly every crime. Drug trafficking is no exception. The West Metro Drug Task Force recorded one of their biggest busts ever, and those indicted also face charges of MVT. Read the full story Here.

Colorado Auto Theft Laws are Changing – CSP is Ready, are You?

June 27th, 2023
Press Release banner

June 23, 2023



Colorado State Patrol Public Affairs Office

Colorado Auto Theft Laws are Changing

Colorado State Patrol is Ready, Are You?

(COLORADO) – On June 2, 2023, Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 2023-097 which will soon go into effect on July 1. The Colorado Revised Statutes concerning Motor Vehicle Theft (MVT) experienced a significant overhaul this past legislative session to further reduce Colorado’s Motor Vehicle Theft rates.

Beginning late in 2022, Colorado’s month-to-month motor vehicle theft incidents showed a slight decrease that has become substantially more pronounced over the last few months. With Colorado already down 22% in auto thefts from January 1 – April 30 2023 compared to 2022, the effects of SB23-097 will help further reduce our communities’ vehicle theft rate.

SB23-097 is a sweeping act that significantly changes how MVT crimes are classified, including a focus on repeat and prolific offenders. Previously the severity of MVT crimes was directly tied to the value of the stolen vehicle. Vehicles of low value had misdemeanor or low-level felony charges tied to them, whereas high-value vehicles led to more severe felony classifications. Colorado has now entirely moved away from this value-tied crime structure in favor of a more equitable classification.

The new classification will create a new MVT in the 3rd Degree charge and Unauthorized use of a Motor Vehicle charge. The Unauthorized use of a Motor Vehicle is explicitly for the situation where a vehicle is not used in the commission of any crime barring traffic offenses, is returned to the owner within 24 hours, and is not damaged in the process of this unauthorized use.  Unauthorized use is a class 1 Misdemeanor with an aggravator to a Class 5 Felony for any second or subsequent offenses.

All other incidents of MVT will either be MVT in the 2nd or 1st degree, which are Class 4 and Class 3 felonies, respectively. Prolific offenders with two or more convictions or adjudications for MVT will be charged with MVT in the 1st degree. MVT in the 2nd degree will be for someone who obtains, receives, or exercises control over a stolen motor vehicle and knew or should have reasonably known such. This includes retaining the vehicle for a period of greater than 24 hours, damage of the vehicle, the use of the vehicle in a crime other than a traffic offense, except for eluding, the purposeful act of altering a vehicle VIN, plate, or sticker, the concealment of the vehicle through physical alteration, and the use of license plates on the vehicle that are not belonging to that vehicle.

“For far too many years, auto theft was perceived as a victimless crime when the perceived value of a vehicle was low. In reality, it had a tremendous impact on the livelihoods of the vehicle owners and other community members when these vehicles were used to commit additional crimes,” stated Col. Mathew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “This law acknowledges every victim and will deter repeat offenders.”

With the passage of this legislation and other bills like SB23-257 that provides additional grant funding to law enforcement agencies, District Attorneys, prevention programs, intelligence systems, and victims’ resources. All contributing to the intense focus Colorado is placing on stopping motor vehicle theft.

“Overhauling the penalties associated with auto theft is an important part of changing Colorado’s auto theft landscape, but nothing can replace your role in protecting your vehicle,” explained Col. Packard.

What can you do? Keep taking the proper steps to secure your vehicle.

  • Lock your car and take your keys, every time. Establish those good routines of key management.
  • Keep your vehicle clean of incentivizing goodies like shopping bags, electronics, and tools.
  • Take additional measures if your vehicle is more than five years old, in an auto theft hot spot, or on the top ten most stolen list. Look into steering wheel locks, security/alarm systems, vehicle immobilizers, and environmental security factors.

Help law enforcement help you by making your vehicle a challenging target for thieves. Learn more about how to take these steps on lockdownyourcar.org

Colorado is moving towards stopping vehicle thefts in accordance with making Colorado one of the top ten safest states. The bright light of tomorrow is shining, and there is no place for car thieves in Colorado.


Since our origin in 1935, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) has focused on preserving human life and protecting property within our communities. Our 1,100 members embody the core values of Honor, Duty, and Respect in their daily jobs.  In addition to our expertise in motor vehicle safety on the state’s roadways, the CSP is responsible for the Governor and other dignitaries’ protection, commercial motor vehicle enforcement, hazardous materials, homeland security, communications, investigative services, criminal interdiction, community education, aviation operations, and more. For additional information, visit us online at Colorado State Patrol or follow us on TwitterInstagram, YouTube, or Facebook.

Attempted Catalytic Converter Theft Turns Violent

May 23rd, 2023

A man in Connecticut was assaulted when accidentally discovering two men likely intending to steal his catalytic converter. The victim was hit with a handgun before the assailants took his wallet and left. A stark reminder to never confront a catalytic converter thief. Full story Here.

Denver Gazette Highlights Auto Theft Reductions in Colorado

May 19th, 2023

The Denver Gazette follows up on the Q1 stats release from the Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority, an in depth interview and detailed look at the changing landscape of auto theft in Colorado. Read the full story Here.

CATPA Releases Q1 2023 Theft Stats

May 19th, 2023

Multi-agency logo

May 18, 2023


Colorado State Patrol Public Affairs Office


2023 Auto Theft Trending Down – But It’s Still Not Time to Relax

(COLORADO) – A sliver of blue sky seems to be appearing, in what has been a growing storm of negative auto theft news in Colorado. The first quarter of 2023 shows a significant decline, a whopping 22% decline in auto theft versus 2022. The Q1 numbers of auto theft occurrences resemble numbers from 2020. While Coloradans, the Insurance Industry and law enforcement are happy with the improvements, the Colorado State Patrol business unit CATPA (Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority) wants to remind everyone that this decline does not mean it is a good time to become relaxed about vehicle security, now or ever!

“The noticeable decline of auto theft is a testament to the resiliency of our citizens and the collaborative effort of many law enforcement and key partners across the State,” stated Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “However, now is no time to rest and relax your vehicle securities. CATPA and the Colorado State Patrol ask you to continue to stay in this fight to reduce auto theft and overall crime in your communities.”

Auto theft is a catalyst crime that often sets off a chain reaction of other crimes. These often include burglaries, smash and grab robberies, reckless driving, eluding, drug crimes, weapons offenses and many times crimes against persons that endanger all of Colorado.

CATPA Stats release 5-18-23

CATPA and the Colorado State Patrol advise all citizens of the best way to combat vehicle theft through a dynamic approach to vehicle security beginning with the basics. Lock your car and take your keys – every time. This is simple, but vehicle owners and operators should practice this most basic vehicle security habitually. CATPA recommends establishing a “Lock and Key” routine that has all vehicle operators remove spare keys from the vehicle, including valet keys, then anytime the vehicle is not in use (including during quick trips inside convenience stores), to shut the vehicle off, take the keys out of the ignition and out of the car, then lock the car.

CATPA also advises additional security measures for owners of any vehicle on the Top Ten Most Stolen Car list, any vehicle in an Auto Theft Hot Spot, and any vehicle more than five years old. These additional security measures should consist of any combination of basic “Lock and Key” routine and: environmental changes (Parking the vulnerable vehicle in a garage or secured parking lot if possible), physical security hardening products like Steering Wheel Locks and Parking Boots, theft deterrent and immobilizing systems like kill switches, alarm systems and security systems that adhere to vehicle immobilizing standards (like the Canadian UL 338 standard). For vulnerable vehicles, CATPA has a limited supply of steering wheel locks for those unable to purchase one or for citizens already victimized by theft. Other resources like security software updates for Hyundai and Kia vehicles are another great step to take.

Colorado, continue your efforts to reduce your risk of becoming an auto theft victim and perform a self-risk assessment using tools available at lockdownyourcar.org. A combination of public awareness and mindfulness is an essential partnership for reducing auto theft – and all crime, in Colorado.

Possible Relief for Recent Victims of Catalytic Converter Theft

March 29th, 2023

The Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority, in cooperation with the Colorado State Legislature, has authorized a financial aid program to assist persons who had catalytic converters stolen in Colorado from their vehicles for a limited time, called the Catalytic Converter Assistance Program. Under this legislation, eligible individuals may receive financial assistance toward the replacement of their stolen catalytic converter.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE: https://csp.colorado.gov/press-release/possible-relief-for-recent-victims-of-catalytic-converter-theft

Colorado State Patrol and State Partners Provide Information on Targeted Vehicle Theft Prevention

March 9th, 2023

(COLORADO) – A recent analysis by the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA) and its partners the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) and the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has resulted in the necessary effort to alert consumers of targeted threats against certain motor vehicles.

Most of the vehicles are late model Kias and Hyundais, within the last decade of manufacture, that have traditional ignition systems that are started with a physical key. Criminals are not targeting Hyundais and Kias with touchless FOB ignition as much. Total theft of these makes has increased 82% from 2021 to 2022.

State Patrol and partners have seen an increase in vehicle thefts despite the vehicles meeting the US Market Security Standard for new automobiles. Some major auto insurance carriers are no longer writing new policies on these vehicles. The Colorado State Patrol, CATPA, DOI and DMV want to make Coloradans aware of target hardening options available to current owners of these vehicles – as well as businesses who buy or sell these vehicles.

Vehicle hardening methods are a way to improve vehicle security or deter vehicle theft through additional equipment implantation. Hyundai recently released an announcement that they are rolling out free anti-theft software for several of their targeted vehicles. This free upgrade by Hyundai service centers will include a marking decal to show updated security software on the vehicle. The 2017-20 Elantra, 2015-19 Sonata and 2020-21 Venue models are eligible for the upgrade currently, while other models will be eligible come June. However, the upgrade will not be compatible with all models. Owners of these vehicles wanting more information can contact Hyundai toll-free at 800-633-5151 or Kia at 800-333-4542. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also issued a news release with additional info regarding the update.

CATPA not only recommends this manufacturer update, but also asks owners of these targeted vehicles to consider additional vehicle hardening equipment. Vehicle theft is not only extremely costly to the owner, but to all of Colorado; stolen vehicles are often used in the commission of other crimes and this all leads to increasing insurance premiums. Auto theft hurts all Coloradans. Additional vehicle hardening equipment may come in the form of physical deterrent and theft prevention devices like steering wheel locks, parking boots and other physical vehicle feature limiting devices.

Other recommendations for heightened vehicle security equipment include the installation of aftermarket security systems that provide the physical deterrent features of car alarms and GPS tracking. The CATPA preference for most efficient vehicle hardening upgrade would be to engage a qualified repair facility for the addition of a vehicle immobilizing system. These systems are complex and create several layers of anti-theft security that greatly reduce the rate of vehicle theft, when used.

CO Theft Data – Hyundai and Kia info for the Calendar Year 2022 – Study Sources

Pie Graph 1. The Colorado Department of Revenue for motor vehicle registrations for Hyundai and Kia vehicles occurring from January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022. Pie Graph 2. The Colorado Stolen Vehicle Database Repository for stolen vehicles reported to the Colorado Crime Information Center from January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022.

Consumers with questions about their insurance can contact the Colorado Division of Insurance Consumer Services Team – 303-894-7490 / DORA_Insurance@state.co..us / doi.colorado.gov (click on “File a Complaint”).

Denver Police Announce Stolen Vehicle Tracking Program

March 3rd, 2023

Denver – Friday, March 3, 2023 – Today, the Denver Police Department (DPD) announced a new program to combat auto thefts – DenverTrack. The DenverTrack program works with any vehicle with an installed tracking device, including factory-installed or after-market devices, and GPS and Bluetooth tracking devices to track stolen vehicles in real time.

The program requires vehicle owners to register for DenverTrack to preauthorize Denver Police access to the GPS location data only in the unfortunate event that their vehicle is stolen. If a registered vehicle is reported stolen, DPD will then confirm consent from the vehicle’s owner to access the vehicle tracking information in real time, with the goal of quickly locating and returning the vehicle to the owner and arresting the suspect(s).

“The Denver Police Department is committed to reducing auto thefts in Denver and recognizes the significant impact this particular crime has had on our residents and visitors,” said Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas. “In 2022, Denver Police officers arrested 1,484 suspects for auto theft, compared to the nearly 14,900 reported stolen vehicles in Denver, which is why having tracking information in real time is vital in retrieving stolen vehicles and holding offenders accountable.”

Vehicle owners can visit www.denvergov.org/DenverTrack to register their vehicle and learn more about the program and additional auto theft prevention tips. Once the vehicle is registered online, DPD will mail DenverTrack stickers to owners to place on their vehicle’s windows to deter potential thieves from stealing their car. Two sticker designs are attached to this press release. Placing a sticker on the registered vehicle is encouraged, but not required. While the program is free to register, a fee from the manufacturer may incur if the GPS system is accessed.

From March 6 to March 10, vehicle owners may visit any DPD district station, between 4:00 – 7:00 p.m., where they will receive assistance in filling out the preauthorization form, thanks to Denver Police volunteers. In addition to receiving guidance with the form, drivers may also obtain a catalytic converter etching kit to deter catalytic converter thefts and license plate theft prevention screws – while supplies last.

DPD wishes to thank the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority for purchasing 10,000 DenverTrack stickers for participants, the Denver Sheriff’s Department for displaying DenverTrack posters in their facilities – alerting arrestees of the program, and RTD for ad space to help raise awareness of the DenverTrack program.


Our Mission: Preventing crime and increasing public trust while honoring the responsibilities granted to us by those we serve, with continued focus on partnerships, learning, and innovation.

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