What do higher car insurance costs for you, serious crimes in our community, and leaving your car running unattended have in common? Read the news release below from our partners at Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT).
Statewide Winter Public Awareness Campaign Reminds Colorado Drivers: Puffer Theft Can Happen Anytime, Anywhere
Denver, CO – It can happen in an instant. A thief sees the telltale puff of exhaust from a car warming up with no owner in sight and Puff…Puff…Poof it’s gone. Today Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT) launches a statewide public awareness campaign warning Colorado drivers about the dangers of, and illegal practice of, leaving cars running unattended. So-called “puffers” contribute to Colorado’s auto theft problem, which rose nearly 5% in 2013 according to the Colorado Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center.
The simple act of leaving your car running unattended can have extremely serious consequences. Recently, a puffer vehicle theft ended in violence with an Aurora Police Officer being shot during a routine traffic stop. “Too often we don’t consider the repercussions of making cars an easy target for thieves and how our vehicle will be used by these criminals,” says Lieutenant Jeff Foster, Aurora Police Department and Commander of the East Metro Auto Theft Team (EMATT). “Auto theft is a gateway crime to other serious crimes and the thieves themselves pose a danger to the public.”
Lockdown Winter Campaign: Puff…Puff…Poof! The Lockdown campaign, supported by grant funding through the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA), is conducted statewide in conjunction with law enforcement agencies, insurance companies and community partners. “The best way to reverse the increasing trend of auto theft is through a combination of law enforcement and public education,” said Colonel Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “The Lockdown Winter campaign encourages Coloradans to warm up with their cars to deter thieves.”
Auto theft is a crime of opportunity. “Puffer thefts can happen anywhere, anytime when we make it easy for the thieves—and while puffer thefts spike in the winter, we see a steady puffer problem throughout the year,” said Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association and CAAT co-chair. “Many of us don’t stop to think that the urge to warm up a car can quickly put us in the middle of serious crimes that start with a stolen vehicle. The winter public awareness campaign features high-profile TV spots, online advertising, social media and earned media to highlight the dangerous, illegal practice of leaving cars running
unattended. The campaign concept drives home the message: You let your car puff, it will disappear, or POOF!
Auto theft task forces will distribute educational materials in the community to facilitate conversations around auto theft prevention. All materials drive citizens to the Lockdown website, LockdownYourCar.org, offering a hot spot map with a geo-locator tool that allows users to search auto theft in their area—an incentive to be auto theft aware.
Auto theft, by the numbers
- While puffer thefts are a year-round problem, auto theft spikes during winter when the cold weather tempts people to leave their cars running unattended to warm up.
- 50% of stolen cars are left running or have the keys in them. (Source: NHTSA)
- Leaving a car running while unattended is illegal in Colorado.
- 44% of Coloradans don’t know leaving a car running unattended is illegal, and
- 35% have admitted to doing it (2014 Talmey-Drake Poll)
- Colorado Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center (ATICC) reports auto theft has increased statewide.
- 11,502 stolen vehicles in 2013, up nearly 5% from 2012.
- Stolen ‘puffers’ and other vehicles ultimately cost all Colorado drivers through higher insurance premiums.
- The average value of a stolen vehicle is about $6,000–this amounts to an
estimated $66 million in annual Colorado losses.
- The average value of a stolen vehicle is about $6,000–this amounts to an
What can the public do? Don’t give thieves a holiday present.
• Never leave your car running unattended—it’s illegal in Colorado and a clear invitation for thieves. Warm up with your car instead.
• Holiday shopping? Put gifts and all valuables in the trunk or hidden from view.
• Always lock your car. Park in well-lit areas.
• Don’t keep a spare set of keys in the car.
• Be aware of your surroundings and report suspicious behavior to a non-emergency police line (in Mesa County: 970-242-6707).
CAAT Coalition Partners
Colorado auto theft task forces, made up of regional law enforcement agencies, Colorado State Patrol and other motor vehicle safety and insurance partners, are a part of the CAAT coalition to decrease auto theft during this peak auto theft season.
• Beat Auto Theft Through Law Enforcement (BATTLE)
• Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force (MATT)
• Southern Colorado Reducing Auto Theft Team (SCRATT)
• Western Colorado Auto Theft Task Force (WCATT)
• East Metro Auto Theft Team (EMATT)
• Commerce City/Thornton/Adams County Auto Theft Prevention Program
• Attorney General’s Auto Theft Prosecution Initiative
• Colorado Auto Theft Investigators (CATI)
• Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT)
• Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center (ATICC)
• San Luis Valley
About Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT):
Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT) is a statewide auto theft prevention initiative to raise awareness about the problem and educate the public on what they can do to reduce their chances of falling victim to auto theft. CAAT is a coalition of law enforcement agencies, the Colorado State Patrol, insurance partners, LoJack and AAA Colorado. CAAT and the state auto theft task force efforts are funded in part by the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA).
New Statewide Survey: Public Perception Out-of-Step with the Reality of Colorado’s Serious Auto Theft Problem
Today marks the start of “Puffer Week” in Colorado, which is a statewide campaign that we as members of the Western Colorado Auto Theft Task Force participate in each year. The information below is from our statewide partners on efforts to combat auto theft. What stands out most to us is that although people are becoming more educated about what “puffing” is, we need to continue to educate the public about the fact that auto theft means a lot more than just losing your car. More information is also available at www.lockdownyourcar.org.
Denver, Colo. (Jan. 27, 2014) — Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT) and Colorado Auto Theft Investigators (CATI) once again team up for this year’s “Puffer Week,” slated for Jan. 27–31. The weeklong statewide awareness and enforcement push aims to educate the public about the risks, dangers and heightened crime associated with auto theft, specifically “puffers” – cars left running unattended.
A January 2014 statewide survey conducted by Talmey-Drake Research on behalf of CAAT, shows over half of respondents say they know someone who has had their car stolen; yet only 26% expressed concern that their own car might be stolen. And while 70% of Coloradans think a running car left unattended is a top way cars get stolen, nearly a quarter say they’ve done it.
“What this new poll tells us is that the majority of Colorado drivers still think of car theft as something that happens to everyone BUT them,” says Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association and CAAT co-chair. “It’s this skew in perception and the increasingly dangerous outcomes of auto theft that drive our statewide education efforts. We see an increase in the awareness that “puffing” is illegal, but people still don’t think their car will be stolen and admit they sometimes take their chances just to warm up their car.”
“Puffers” accounted for nearly 15% of all auto thefts in 2013, averaging seven stolen vehicles per day, 35 per week. Not surprisingly, cold-season months, with the peak month being January, produced the highest number of “puffer” thefts. (Source: Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center)
As part of Colorado’s auto theft prevention efforts, the Attorney General’s Auto Theft Initiative fully supports “Puffer Week” and the strong public partnership driving its efforts. “CATI partners with CAAT to localize enforcement efforts and bring personal awareness and accountability to the rising auto theft problem,” says Dana Chavez, Colorado Attorney General’s Criminal Investigator II, Special Prosecutions/Auto Theft and President of CATI.
“Last year, 11,304 cars were reported stolen, and increasingly we are seeing auto theft as a gateway to other violent and drug-related crimes. It takes a combination of law enforcement working together with the public
to combat and prevent auto theft.”
As part of continued education efforts initiated by CAAT’s Lockdown campaign earlier this winter, “Puffer Week” activities will roll out statewide through the distribution of informational fliers and Lockdown-branded ice scrapers, along with an increase in issued warnings and citations to those who leave their cars running unattended.
Poll results indicate many Coloradans perceive auto theft as a crime enabling joyriding and the stripping down and selling of car parts, but the reality is auto theft is fueled by other more dangerous motives and activities.
“While leaving your car running unattended to warm up doesn’t seem like a big risk, earlier this month we had a stolen ‘puffer’ vehicle that was used in illegal street racing and ultimately resulted in the tragic death of a teenager in Aurora,” says Jeff Turner, Traffic Section Lieutenant with the city of Aurora. “It’s a sad reminder that stolen vehicles are often used to commit serious crimes and another reason to think twice before making your car an easy target for a thief.”
-moreSignificant findings from 2014 statewide survey by Talmey-Drake Research (on behalf of CAAT):
• 66% know that leaving a car running while unattended is illegal (only 53% were aware in the same study conducted in 2011).
• Only 18% of those who almost never or never leave their car running unattended say it’s because their afraid it will get stolen; 70% simply believe it’s not a good thing to do.
• The sheer fact that each year more than 10,000 vehicles are stolen statewide has little or no affect on 70% of Coloradans.
What can the public do?
• Never leave your car running unattended.
• Always lock your car.
• Never leave any keys in the car, even a spare set.
• Never leave valuables in plain sight.
• Always park in well-lit, high-traffic areas.
• Get windows, doors and fenders etched with the VIN.
• Consider installing a tracking and recovery device.
• Check out http://www.lockdownyourcar.org for more prevention tips, local statistics and a Hot Spot map with geo-locator tool allowing users to search auto theft in their area.
The Grand Junction Police Department is investigating another report of a vehicle that was stolen while “puffing.” Puffing refers to the “puff” of exhaust that can be seen on cold days when vehicles are left running without anybody in them.
This morning, just before 8am, officers were dispatched to the 900 block of White Ave. for a report of a stolen vehicle. The owner said she left it running in front of her house to warm up, and a thief took full advantage of the opportunity. The owner said she thought she had locked the doors with the key fob, but the thief was able to drive off with it anyway.
The vehicle is a 2007 powder blue Toyota Rav 4 with license plate number 069 KPV. If you have any information about this theft or have seen this vehicle please call 970-242-6707.
A similar theft happened earlier this week. A man parked his pickup in front of a convenience store near 29 Rd and North Ave. and left it running while he went inside for a quick cup of coffee. He came out in time to see someone driving off in his pickup, squealing the tires as it turned the corner.
The Western Colorado Auto Theft Task Force reminds all drivers to warm up with your car, and never leave it running unattended.
For more information about preventing your car from being stolen visit www.lockdownyourcar.org.