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Many car theft suspects are repeat offenders, police say

In 2021, Colorado had 37,000 stolen vehicles. In 2022, the state is on pace to surpass that.

DENVER — Security cameras, broad daylight and locked doors do not seem to matter when it comes to recent car thefts.

Last year, there were nearly 37,000 vehicles stolen in Colorado and the state is on pace to surpass that number in 2022, according to data from the Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force (MATT).

The numbers are just crazy," said Sergeant Troy Kessler with Colorado State Patrol (CSP) said. "Roughly 85 percent of auto thefts are involved in other crimes. And I believe about 15 are violent, linking those is the hardest part."

Kessler works with the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA) who assists other divisions, analytics and task forces throughout the Denver metro area.

On average, in 2021, 75 vehicles were stolen each day in the Denver metro and 100 vehicles were stolen statewide, according to data from MATT.

MATT is trying to close communication gaps between counties and help to identify auto theft rings. MATT is a multi-agency task force in the Denver metro area that is funded by grants from CAPTA.

RELATED: Showroom BMW stolen, used in Adams County break in, says dealership

"We know that 97 percent of the people who have been arrested in the last three years for auto theft have multiple arrests for auto theft," said Commander Mike Greenwell with the MATT.

And even when caught, the courts get involved.

"Quite frankly, judges are reluctant to send car thieves to prison," 9NEWS Legal Expert Scott Robinson said. "Unless its their fourth or fifth try at unsuccessfully stealing cars."

"People that committed quote unquote, property crimes, like vehicle theft, were not admitted to the jail. They were released right back out to continue doing what they do," Kessler said.

The three cities with the highest numbers of vehicle thefts are Denver, Aurora and Lakewood, according to MATT.

According to law enforcement, thieves steal cars for various reasons. To be chopped for parts, used in crimes, sold or even lived in.

Law enforcement says to protect yourself and lock your car.

RELATED: Suspect arrested after attempted armed carjacking on I-25, police say

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