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Truck stolen from Denver airport and re-titled by thief, owner says

Auto thefts and break-ins at DIA are up in 2022, compared to recent years.

DENVER — Jacob Perrotto says he’s had an exhausting week trying to prove to people he owned his truck, after he says it was stolen from a parking lot at Denver International Airport (DIA), and then retitled by a thief.

Denver Police confirmed to 9NEWS they were investigating the case Monday.

Perrotto said he and his family parked their truck in the Pike’s Peak shuttle lot at the airport on May 3 to fly to Florida for a visit to Disney World.

“We told my son Archer to remember where we parked,” he said. “We walked over to where it was originally parked and it wasn’t there and Archer said, 'It was parked right here. I don’t understand where is it?'”

Perrotto said he called police. When officers arrived, they asked for a registration and VIN number for the vehicle.

“I had to scramble to find my registration. Gave him the VIN number and the plate number, and he said that vehicle didn’t belong to me,” Perrotto said. “He said it was registered under a different name.”

Perrotto repeated the information. And the officer again told him the vehicle wasn’t registered to him.

According to Perrotto, the officer told him the vehicle had been registered on May 9, two days before the family returned from Florida. Perrotto said security at the airport parking lot told him the vehicle had left the lot and returned twice during the family’s trip.

“We are seeing this more,” Commander Mike Greenwell with the Colorado Metropolitan Auto Theft Taskforce said by email on Monday. “[Thieves] then take the new title and try to sell the vehicle to some unsuspecting citizens. Vehicles being sold with fake/altered titles and/or fake/altered VINs continues to be a problem.”

RELATED: Auto thefts, break-ins at DIA up compared to previous years

Greenwell said anyone who believes their car has been stolen should report it immediately to law enforcement who can then work with the Colorado Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to investigate if the title has been changed.

He also stressed that anyone buying a car on the open market should ask the seller for the VIN and search it on a third party website like CarFax. If the seller doesn’t want to provide the VIN, Greenwell said consumers shouldn’t buy the vehicle.

Greenwell also suggests drivers make sure they remove any documents with personal information on them from their vehicle and only carry the car registration without an address listed.

A spokesman for the DMV said Monday that cases of thieves retitling cars are rare, but also urged anyone dealing with a stolen car to work with law enforcement.

Perrotto said he is working with a detective to get his case sorted out. He isn’t sure if his title to the truck was in the vehicle or not.

“My best guess is he forged my signature on a title and somehow cooked up a bill of sale. I don’t understand how you could do that and so quickly,” he said.

Per previous 9NEWS reporting, over the past five years, six of the top 11 auto-theft hot spots in the city were in the area of DIA and surrounding parking lots and motels, according to Denver police data.

Vehicle thefts were especially up there in 2022 compared to 2019, 2020 and 2021. The airport area averaged 46 car thefts in the first four months of the past three years, but had 139 in the same period this year.

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