(CBS4) – Colorado is rapidly becoming one of the worst states in the nation for auto theft. According to the latest statistics from the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority, there has been an 88% percent increase in motor vehicle thefts since 2017.
It’s a crime that is more than an inconvenience.
“This completely changed my life,” DeAnna Jiron said, “It’s just the stress, I couldn’t get to work and had to depend on everybody.”
Jiron dropped her keys while shopping at a Walmart, and by the time she reached the parking lot and realized they were missing, her car was stolen.
“We went outside and started hitting the alarm and they found out what car it was,” she said.
She posted the information on Colorado Stolen Cars Facebook page. With more than 20,000 members, they have helped recover dozens of vehicles. Shortly after her post, she got several messages directing her to reach out to an Instagram account that offers help recovering stolen vehicles, telling victims using “ethical hacking” techniques they can tap into GPS systems and other electronics.
“I thought about it for a minute, I really did, but it just didn’t sound right. But for a second there, being desperate, I mean, what can you do? ” she said.
Some have paid for the service and received nothing in return.
“It’s ingenuity on the part of thieves. They are figuring out how to either break in or start vehicles or utilize whatever they have at their disposal in order to get these vehicles, ”Trooper Josh Lewis with Colorado State Patrol said.
Lewis says in 2021 alone nearly 40,000 vehicles were stolen in Colorado.
“We’d love to be able to say we know exactly why or what’s going on, what the precise ramifications are that make people think this is acceptable, or if it’s easier. We just don’t know and that’s what we’re looking at, ”Lewis said.
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While he says the recovery rate is high, vehicles are often used in other crimes or found trashed by thieves.
That was the case for Jiro, who is now urging everyone to protect themselves.
“Just be proactive. Just stay ahead of things, because they are out here taking anything and my car was pretty roughed up when they took it. It wasn’t in the best shape and they still took it, ”she said.
CBS4 reached out to the different companies referred to victims for help tracking their stolen vehicles. Most had been deactivated online and one that wasn’t appeared to shut down after they were asked to comment.