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Colorado Auto Thieves Are Put on Notice: 34 Colorado Law Enforcement Agencies Receive Grants to Fund Joint Efforts to Combat Auto Theft.
June 29, 2009 – The Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA) this week announced eight grant awards totaling nearly $2 million to target and combat auto theft statewide. The grant recipients include funding for seven multi-jurisdictional auto theft task forces made-up of 34 law enforcement agencies from across the state. There are also monies dedicated to auto theft prevention technology and training to support these aggressive, ongoing efforts to arrest and prosecute auto thieves.
"The bad economy threatens to increase Colorado's auto theft problem at a time when local law enforcement has been forced to slash budgets for auto theft investigators and resources," says Matt Cook, CATPA Board President. "Auto theft is a moving target, so these funds support multi-jurisdictional auto theft task forces that pool resources and effectively crack down on auto theft beyond city and county borders."
SB-60, the Colorado law that went into effect July 1, 2008, established new funding for CATPA. The statute gives priority to multi-agency applicants that target auto theft in different geographical regions of the state. CATPA is a cash-funded program that awards grants through the annual collection by insurance companies of $1.00 for every insured vehicle. State legislators intended this to be a direct investment by consumers to combat auto theft and ultimately lower car insurance premiums. Auto theft investigations also target related crimes, such as drug running, gang activity, burglary and organized crime.
CATPA Grant Awards
Eight grant recipients received one-year approval, and based on quarterly evaluation of results, awards may be extended for multi-year funding in order to establish long-term, ongoing regional auto theft prevention efforts. CATPA grant award recipients: Regional Auto Theft Team of Northern Colorado, Denver Metropolitan Auto Theft Team, Southern Colorado Motor Vehicle Theft Task Force, Jefferson County Regional Auto Theft Task Force, South Area Auto Theft Task Force, Operation Southwestern Auto Theft Prevention and the Multi-Jurisdictional Project to Reduce Automobile Theft. A grant was awarded to the Colorado Auto Theft Investigators Association for statewide scholarships to law enforcement and prosecutors for investigative training.
Proven Success & New Auto Theft Task Forces: Several of the auto theft task forces already exist thanks to previous CATPA funding and have proven success at reducing auto theft. These new CATPA funds have bolstered ongoing efforts and generated new multi-jurisdictional collaboration statewide. Some highlights:
The Regional Auto Theft Team of Northern Colorado (NCRAT) is a collaborative effort among nine agencies: Weld County Sheriff, Loveland PD, Longmont PD, Larimer County Sheriff, Greeley PD, Fort Collins PD, Colorado State Patrol, National Insurance Crime Bureau and Colorado Department of Revenue. To date NCRAT has recovered a total of 235 stolen vehicles valued at $2.6 million and arrested 98 persons on auto-theft related charges. "On behalf of the participating agencies of the Regional Auto Theft Team of Northern Colorado, I would like to express our excitement regarding the 2009 CATPA grant award," says Sgt. Greg McComas, Colorado State Patrol. "The funds will allow us to continue our multi-jurisdictional approach to combating auto theft and associated crimes in Northern Colorado. We strive to maintain and surpass the success our team has witnessed since its formation in 2005 and look toward the future with plans of increasing agency participation and expanding into a fully funded team."
The Jefferson County Regional Auto Theft Task Force is a new full-time task force made up of Lakewood PD, Arvada PD, Wheat Ridge PD and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Dept. The grant helps fund seven full-time investigators and specialized auto theft prevention tracking equipment. "This is a tremendous opportunity to get aggressive on auto theft using a multi-faceted, team approach," says Commander Mike Becker, Lakewood Police Department. "We will be better equipped to target, arrest and get the bad guys, those career criminals, off the streets, and at the same time educate our citizens so they can be more aware and don't make themselves easy targets for auto theft."
The Southern Colorado Reduce Auto Theft Task Force (RAT) is made-up of Colorado Springs PD, Pueblo PD, Pueblo County Sheriff's Dept., Fountain PD, Monument PD, El Paso County Sheriff's Dept. and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The Southern Colorado Metro Rat Task Force's grant monies will purchase six license plate readers and pay for overtime associated with joint task force operations such as surveillance, inspections at auto shops and scrap yards, and prevention/educational efforts. "This is an opportunity for the partners to conduct joint operations related to stolen vehicles, as well as enhancing information sharing within law enforcement entities and aiding in public education efforts to prevent motor vehicle theft," says Lt. Col. Jane Anderson, Colorado Springs Police Department. "With the continuous budget cuts and staff constraints, this couldn't have come at a better time!"
Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority Background
CATPA was established by Colorado Statute in 2003 and supports investigation, enforcement, prosecution, public awareness and law enforcement training programs that have helped impact Colorado's serious auto theft problem. These efforts have resulted in an increase in stolen vehicle recoveries and criminal prosecutions of hard-core and major organized criminal groups, as well as related crimes. Since CATPA efforts have been launched, the number of stolen vehicles in Colorado has decreased by nearly 6,000 vehicles—from 22,699 in 2003 to 16,792 in 2007 (source: *FBI Uniform Crime Reports).
CATPA previously relied on voluntary grants rather than a consistent funding source to keep law enforcement efforts active and ongoing. The new Colorado law that annually collects $1.00 for every insured vehicle helps ensure that auto theft prevention efforts are targeted and long-term commitments. CATPA is similar to auto theft prevention authorities in other states that have successfully reduced auto theft.
CATPA is also committed to educating the public on auto theft prevention steps drivers can take and join law enforcement in recommending a layered approach to preventing auto theft:
1. Use Common Sense
- Park in well-lit areas.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Report anything suspicious and avoid suspicious looking people.
- Lock your doors.
- Close your windows completely.
- Take your keys out of the car.
- Never leave your car running unattended – not even for a minute.
- Remove all items from the car or hide them from view.
2. Visible or Audible Anti-Theft Devices
- Audible alarm system
- Steering wheel locks
- Steering column collars
- Theft deterrent decals
- Wheel locks
- Window/VIN etching
3. Vehicle Immobilizer
- Smart keys have computer chips that must be present to start the car.
- Fuse cut-offs
- Starter, ignition and fuel disablers
4. Tracking system
- Install a tracking system that alerts police or a monitoring service when the vehicle is reported stolen.
5. Avoid carjacking
- Drive with windows rolled up and doors locked.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- When stopped at a signal, leave enough space between you and the next car to be able to drive away if approached.
- Do not enter your car if someone is loitering. Seek help.
- Be alert at drive-up ATMs.
- Put life and safety first!
Report fraud and vehicle theft to your local law enforcement, as well as the National Insurance Crime Bureau at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422). Your call to NICB can be anonymous and you may be eligible for a reward.
Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association is a non-profit consumer information organization. Affiliated with the Insurance Information Institute, RMIIA has been serving consumers and the media since 1952.