Colorado auto thefts declined in 2023, but the troubling trend continues

While a year-over-year decline in stolen vehicles was reported in Colorado, the 5-year auto theft rate showed a 62 percent increase in car theft.
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Posted at 8:00 AM, Mar 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-24 10:00:04-04

DENVER — After leading the nation in stolen vehicles, including a staggering 98 percent increase over a 5-year period, the latest data show Colorado vehicle thefts dropped in 2023, a trend that has continued into the current year.

Colorado’s updated auto theft statistics were released Friday from the Colorado State Patrol Theft Intelligence Coordination Center.

During 2023, there were 32,976 vehicles reported stolen in Colorado compared to 41,656 thefts in 2022, said the CSP.

That 8,680 drop in stolen vehicles resulted in a 21 percent decrease by volume, according to data from Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA)

Stolen vehicles in Colorado by year:

  • 2018: 21,169
  • 2019: 20,701
  • 2020: 28,233
  • 2021: 37,199
  • 2022: 41,184
  • 2023: 32,976

Recovered stolen vehicles in Colorado by year:

  • 2018: 15,672
  • 2019: 14,842
  • 2020: 19,044
  • 2021: 26,086
  • 2022: 29,082
  • 2023: 22,027

Topping the list of Colorado’s most stolen vehicles in 2023 were Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Silverado and both vehicle manufacturers accounted for 23 percent of all stolen vehicles, said the CSP.

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While a year-over-year decline in stolen vehicles was reported in Colorado, the 5-year auto theft rate showed a 62 percent increase, which is down from the previously reported 98 percent increase in the 5-year rate.

“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,” read the report.

Colorado also reported a decline in motorcycle thefts in 2023 showing 1,780 stolen bikes compared to 2,131 in 2022. That number is still above 1,431 stolen motorcycles reported in Colorado during 2019.

Drilling down into Denver stolen vehicle data, the city also showed a decline in 2023 from the previous year. While data slightly different from CATPA and the Denver Police Department’s crime reporting dashboard, the decline in Denver stolen vehicles between 2022 and 2023 was between 19 and 21 percent.

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A look at year-to-date auto theft totals in Denver showed 1,958 stolen vehicles reported so far in 2024 compared to 2,920 by this time in 2023, which is a 33 percent decrease.

“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,” said the report. “From legislative changes, law enforcement strategy changes, to the invaluable efforts made by the public everyday to secure their vehicles.”The decrease is welcomed as Colorado has continued to rank in the top 10 states for the most auto theft since 2015, according to CATPA.

From 2020 to 2022, Colorado retained the position as the state with the most auto thefts, said CATPA. “Reaching a rate of 731 thefts per capita, which is the highest level we’ve

experienced since the FBI UCR NIBRS reporting in 1999 comparing Colorado with other

States,” the report stated, which highlighted legislative and funding efforts to combat auto theft in the state.

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The report continued: “In 2021, Governor Polis and the Colorado Legislature began to give unprecedented attention to address statewide motor vehicle theft. Governor Polis introduced a Wildly Important Goal to “make Colorado one of the top 10 safest states by reducing auto theft

by 10% before July 2023.” In response, two key pieces of legislation were passed, Senate

Bill 23-097 and Senate Bill 23-257, which were both signed into law by Governor Polis in

June 2023.”To dive deeper into Colorado’s latest auto theft report and efforts underway to turn the statistics around, click to read the full Colorado Auto Theft Annual Report.

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