Wheat Ridge Sees First Decrease In Motor Vehicle Theft In Years

Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker
Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker

Let’s talk about motor vehicle theft: both the ugly truth, and the biggest win we’ve seen in a long time. 

The Colorado Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force (C-MATT) just released its 2022 annual report, and there’s an encouraging statistic in there that we’re quite proud of: the Wheat Ridge Police Department is among just a handful of agencies that saw a decrease – the first in years – in vehicle thefts in 2022.

Wheat Ridge’s seven percent reduction of this kind of theft is the fifth largest reduction in the Denver-Metro area. Additionally, Wheat Ridge police recovered 11 percent more vehicles than were stolen.

This is all being accomplished under the backdrop of a 86 percent rise in auto thefts statewide between 2019 and 2021, according to the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.

Unfortunately, Colorado leads the nation in auto thefts and state lawmakers have been debating over what can be done. 

The Wheat Ridge Criminal Investigations Division Commander wanted to share how our agency was able to achieve this impressive accomplishment:

1. In Wheat Ridge, we generally jail all motor vehicle theft suspects, which prevents more thefts in the immediate future; no longer are those individuals released pending charges. 

2. Our detectives work closely with our county district attorney to file cases and ensure these suspects are given monetary bonds instead of PR (personal recognizance) bonds. 

3. Our patrol officers proactively locate a high number of stolen vehicles (as many as several every day) and connect the dots back to the suspects who stole them.

4. That relationship with C-MATT allows for the identification, dismantling, and prosecution of MVT criminal organizations committing crimes in our city. 

Knowing that this issue will remain a top concern, the WRPD wants to provide information and tools to help you protect your vehicle and help us keep our auto theft rate on the decline.

1. Lock your car and take your keys, every time. Failure to take this basic step is referred to as owner apathy, and according to National Insurance Crime Bureau’s latest report, thefts involving the keys left in the vehicle are up by 20 percent over the last few years.

2. Park your vehicle in a garage or secure parking area, if available to you. If your garage is too full for your vehicle, it’s time to clean it out and benefit from a secure place to store your vehicle. A locked car, in a secure garage, drastically reduces your chances of motor vehicle theft.

3. When you don’t have access to secured parking whether, at home, work or anywhere else, take extra security precautions to secure your vehicle. Devices such as a steering wheel lock, an aftermarket alarm system, or advanced measures like a vehicle kill switch or immobilizer are possible options.

The Wheat Ridge Police Department has made significant strides in keeping auto thefts on the decline so that you, the people they are tasked with protecting, can feel more confident that your vehicle is safer in Wheat Ridge.

Contact Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker at bstarker@ci.wheatridge.co.us or 303-235-2800.

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