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Recent auto theft statistics show us crime now rarely stops with a stolen car, and encouraging citizens to do their part to help prevent auto theft is an important step in making Colorado safer.
Colorado State Patrol Chief Colonel Scott Hernandez

Colorado Auto Theft

  • Colorado continues to lead the nation in motor vehicle thefts. Ranked #1 in America in 2021, in the first 6 months of 2022 (January - June), the motor vehicle theft rate increased another 17.2%
  • At the current rate of 4,007 thefts per month, motor vehicle thefts are on pace to exceed 48,000 for the year - an all-time high. The estimated total value of these stolen vehicles is between $468.1M and 848.3M, on the road to nearly $1B.
  • So far in 2022, four Colorado cities rank in the top ten in the United States for motor vehicle thefts (out of 185 cities), including Denver (2), Aurora (3), Westminster (8), and Pueblo (9). These four cities combined, account for 53.3% of the vehicles stolen statewide in the first quarter of 2022
  • According to Commander Mike Greenwell with CMATT, "97 percent of the people who have been arrested in the last three years for auto theft have multiple arrests for auto theft."
  • More Motor vehicles are stolen from Denver International Airport than any other location in Colorado and account for nearly 3% of all the motor vehicles stolen statewide.
  • Since 2019, Colorado's monthly motor vehicle theft rate has increased 120.6%. The auto theft rate ranked Colorado number one in the nation.
  • In the first six months of 2022 (January-June), the trend has continued, and the motor vehicle theft rate has increased 17.2%.
    • Criminals stole 24,044 motor vehicles in the first six months, 3.463 more than the same period in 2021.
    • The monthly theft rate is now 68.56 vehicles per 100,000 persons.
  • The number of secondary offenses related to motor vehicle theft has increased more than six-fold since 2008. Drug crimes involving motor vehicle theft have increaded 1,110%, violent crimes involving motor vehicle theft 521%, and property crimes involving motor vehicle theft 583%.

Auto Theft Victim Impact

Auto theft is considered a property crime; however, stolen vehicles are often used to commit other crimes. Drug use connected with auto theft is very common in Colorado. There is a financial impact on the victim as well as potential danger associated with a recovered stolen vehicle. Victims are encouraged to check their cars for damage, illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, and other contraband. The victim should carefully vacuum the vehicle and wipe down the interior surfaces with a disinfectant. If the vehicle was stolen with the key and they key was not recovered, a new ignition switch should be installed. Locks on the victim's home, office and other buildings should be changed if the thief had access to their keys. Garage door codes should be changed and enhanced security measures should be taken at him, since the thief knows where the victim lives.

In 2021 there were 25,800 recovered vehicles out of 37,000 vehicles stolen. So far in 2022 there have been 16,200 vehicles recovered out of 24,000 vehicles stolen.

Puffer Vehicles

The Stolen Vehicle Database Repoitory was searched for any notification that may lend indentification to a vehicle theft where, at the time of theft, the vehicle was unattended and left running. These thefts would be considered "Puffer Thefts" by the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA). The database resulted in a total of 229 thefts where a notation was made that the vehicle was a puffer. This is a 15.1 percent increase over 2016's 199. In addition, there were 669 vehicle theft records identifying that keys were left in or with the vehicle at the time of the theft. This is a 137.2 perecent increase over 2016's 282. These vehicle records attribute to 4.6 percent fo all vehicle thefts in 2017 versus 2.67 perecent in 2016. These numbers do not include victims of vehicle theft who do not report they left their vehicle unattended and running.

Colorado's Top Ten Stolen Vehicles July - September 2022 (CATPA)

  1. Kia Sportage - 467 Thefts
  2. Hyundai Tuscan - 389 Thefts
  3. Hyundai Sonata- 368 Thefts
  4. Chevy Silverado- 355 Thefts
  5. Kia Optima- 332 Thefts
  6. Hyundai Elantra - 274 Thefts
  7. Kia Sorento - 199 Thefts
  8. Ford F-250 - 163 Thefts
  9. GMC Sierra - 150 Thefts
  10. Kia Soul - 148 Thefts

Colorado's Top Ten Stolen Vehicles in 2021 (NICB)

  1. Ford Pick-Up (Full Size) - 2,760 Thefts
  2. Chevrolet Pick-Up (Full Size) - 2,282 Thefts
  3. Honda Civic - 1,141 Thefts
  4. Honda Accord - 1,085 Thefts
  5. Hyundai Sonata - 1,044 Thefts
  6. Kia Motors Corporation Optima - 1,041 Thefts
  7. GMC Pick-Up (Full Size) - 894 Thefts
  8. Dodge Pick-Up (Full Size) - 824 Thefts
  9. Kia Motors Corporation Sportage - 742 Thefts
  10. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee - 740 Thefts

Colorado Auto Theft by Area in 2021 (2021 ATICC Annual Public Report)

Reporting Agency Thefts 2021 Theft 2020 % of Change
Denver Metro 27,442 19,738 39%
Eastern Colorado 299 307 -3%
Northern Colorado 3,028 2,496 21%
South West Colorado 436 493 -12%
Southern Colorado 4,878 3,904 25%
Western Colorado 823 726 13%


Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority

Efforts to combat auto theft play a major role in reducing the number of stolen vehicles. The Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA) awards state grants that fund law enforcement, prosecution, training and public awareness activities targeting auto theft. Click here for more information about the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority.

Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT)

Together with law enforcement agencies, insurance companies and community partners, the newly formed Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT) coalition is working to put the brakes on auto theft. CAAT has launched "Lockdown," a statewide auto theft prevention initiative to educate the public on what they can do to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of auto theft.

Logon to CAAT's auto theft prevention website:, for current auto theft trends, victim support, testimonials and current coalition efforts to prevent auto theft in Colorado.

Additional Information