DENVER — It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Having heard about the rash of stolen cars at Denver International Airport (DIA) this year, Ryan Mason left his pickup truck at his hotel seven miles from the airport before heading out on a business trip last week.
"I figured, hotel row, I'd be better off, more people around, security cameras," Mason said. "I stayed the night at the Doubletree Hilton on Tower Road, parked my truck, registered at the hotel."
It turned out that Mason's truck was no safer on North Tower Road than it would have been at the airport.
"When I flew back in, it was gone," Mason said. "It's crazy, it's obviously a huge problem."
According to Denver's online crime dashboards, Mason's car was one of 12 vehicles stolen this year from the same Doubletree. Dozens more have been stolen from other hotels along the same stretch of North Tower Road.
The records show the RTD Park-n-Ride on East Smith Road has had 116 vehicles stolen this year, the highest number of stolen cars at one location in Denver in 2022.
"A lot of people park there in order to go to the airport," said Mike Greenwell, commander of the Metro Auto Theft Taskforce.
Greenwell said the increase in stolen cars this year has been driven largely by thefts in specific areas.
"Airport parking lots, hotel parking lots, apartment complex parking lots, anywhere you have a large conglomeration of unattended vehicles, you're going to see that problem," Greenwell said. "It's like an unmanned used car lot where thieves are free to come and go."
Greenwell said, starting in January, the task force will be increasing enforcement efforts at DIA, the hotel row near DIA and at a specific area in southeast Denver. The goal is to reduce stolen cars in those areas by 50%.
So far this year, more than 29,000 cars have been stolen in metro Denver, an 11% increase from this time last year.
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