COLORADO SPRINGS — Investigators say on a daily basis cars are being burglarized in Colorado Springs and the overall numbers are on the rise. News 5 provides a look at the numbers and how the car break-ins are just the start of the challenges victims may face.
In the Stetson Hills Division of Colorado Springs, officers say they're averaging 40 to 50 car burglaries every month.
While car break-ins and burglaries happen at all times of the year, the summer months are always a challenge. Especially, at trail heads and at the city's parks and hiking trails where people leave their cars parked in parking lots for hours in some cases.
"Unfortunately it happens every day in the city. It's all throughout the city. It doesn't matter if you're in a residential neighborhood, or an apartment complex, a city park, maybe at one of our shopping malls, it's happening everywhere. So that also makes things a little more problematic because it's hard to pinpoint exactly who is doing it," said CSPD Crime Prevention Officer M.J. Thomson.
Colorado State University Global's "Dr. Fraud" J. Michael Skiba says once things are stolen from your vehicle it might be just the start for the criminals.
"There's a ripple effect. It's what they steal at the time, but then what they can actually do after," said Skiba. "The credit reports and buying things in your name and by the time you get to a point where you can put the filters in place it's already too late."
From January to April 2021, CSPD reports 1,587 car break-in cases to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. That's up from this time last year and up from the average of the last five years.
A breakdown of theft cases so far in Colorado Springs: (data current as of April 2021)
- 35% Theft from motor vehicle
- 24.4% Other
- 16.6% Shoplifting
- 15.7% Theft of motor vehicle parts/accessories
- 7.2% Theft from building
- 0.7% Theft from coin-operated machine
- 0.2% Pocket picking
- 0.1% Purse snatching
Investigators say the criminals are capitalizing on mistakes by car owners.
"It's simple to say lock your vehicle, but you'd be surprised how many vehicles are absolutely not locked, the windows are down because it's hot. They'll have a pet in the vehicle and they'll leave the windows down for a pet," said Thomson. "They'll come right from the airport and they'll have a rental car and they won't even go to the hotel and they'll have all of their luggage which is very visible and they'll go to one of our parks."
The experts say it's best to leave valuables at home because even when they are out of sight the crooks know where to find them and information about you that could lead to future fraud and Identity theft crimes.
"There are so many areas here that are target-rich for criminals. First, you have the glove box and this one is not locked, but even if they are locked they are easy to compromise," Skiba told News 5 from the front seat of his car. "So, we have this armrest, and this is not locked, people oftentimes throw things in here. So, it's just about leaving those things in a more secure environment whether it's home, or a hotel it's actually worth a stop."
In addition to the fraud that can later come from these car burglaries, garage burglaries and home burglaries can also happen if the criminals can get their hands on your garage door opener and registration with your address on it. So, it's something else to think about.
Lastly, a reminder for gun owners. Investigators say it's a bad idea to leave your weapon in a vehicle where it could be stolen in a car burglary. This too has been a problem and presents serious issues for the safety of both officers and the public.
If you have questions for the Colorado Springs Police Department about crime trends or need help reporting a crime, click here.