The Aurora Police Department (APD) plans to crack down on auto theft in a new strategy, according to their police chief.
Interim Chief Art Acevedo said the department has been instructed to respond to more aggressively to calls like car break-ins with lights and sirens, and to engage in more vehicle pursuits.
The move comes after the APD discovered dozens of stolen cars around the city.
Acevedo said the majority of car thefts are done so the thief can commit secondary crimes like robberies or drive-by shootings, rather than stripping the car and selling the parts.
Colorado currently has the highest rate of vehicle thefts in the nation.
The chief also called on prosecutors to levy harsher penalties against carjackers.
“We actually arrested in this neighborhood a known, prolific auto thief. We’re going to do everything we can to charge you federally with engaging in organized criminal activity,” Acevedo warned.
“How much you want to bet that guy is getting [a slap on the wrist?] At some point enough has to be enough,” Acevedo said. “I want my officers to start pursuing more bad guys.”
Acevedo also said he wants to get tough on violent crime and property crime.
By responding with lights and sirens, Acevedo believes officers will respond more urgently while deterring other crimes in progress.
Acevedo added that lights and sirens will alert residents to police activity in their area and improve situational awareness.
“It’s going to increase the visibility of the police department to make the criminal element a little more uncomfortable. It’ll disrupt crime,” the chief said.
Acevedo also encouraged residents to report crimes and to remove valuables from their cars.
“If you call 9-1-1 and you believe that we didn’t respond in the time it should have taken, if you believe it was a crime in progress and we didn’t get there for two or three hours, I want to know about it,” Acevedo said.
The chief warned citizens that criminals are often desperate and dangerous, and to let police do their thing.
“We live in a world where people shoot at the drop of a hat. They don’t even think about it. If you’re going to track your car, you better be doing it a couple blocks away. If they’re driving recklessly, you better just let them go,” Acevedo said.
“A lot of these criminals are not afraid of death. They’re not. You know what they do fear? Being incarcerated.”
A QuoteWizard study found that auto theft across the nation has risen by 20% this year.