Terri Finney returned to Denver International Airport at the end of a weekend trip to find her car gone from the east garage, where she'd parked it two days earlier. By the end of the week, Denver police had arrested the suspected thieves and recovered her Audi A4 sedan.
But what seemed like a happy ending turned sour when she saw the condition of the seven-year-old car.
It sustained minor physical damage that "would've been fixable," Finney recalled, "but they had smoked so much meth in it that it was totaled."
She is among dozens of DIA travelers affected by a surge in auto thefts from its garages and lots this year as the frequency of on-airport thefts has more than doubled. Increasingly, law enforcement officials say, theft rings and individual thieves have viewed the airport's acres of parking and rental car lots as easy targets during the pandemic, swiping an average 16 cars a month this year.
Auto theft is a recurring problem at the hotels and lots outside DIA's boundaries, too. It's increased across the country in the last two years, along with some other types of crime. But police data show that DIA's growth in auto theft cases has far outpaced metro Denver as a whole.
Car theft can spring a costly surprise on travelers when they return to the airport, even though police often are able to find stolen vehicles.
After Finney's experience in late February, the check cut by her insurance company for the value of her totaled car left her on the hook for a substantial portion of the price for a replacement. She also lost outdoor gear and other belongings she'd left inside her old car, all long gone by the time it was found.
Finney, a Denver psychologist, figures the theft cost her upwards of $11,000.
Auto thefts already have eclipsed last year
Denver Police Department data provided to The Denver Post show that last year, thieves swiped 97 vehicles from locations on airport property, including DIA's garages and lots as well as rental car companies' lots. Even though passenger traffic declined significantly last year during the pandemic, the 2020 auto-theft total was up 24% over 2019.
The problem has only accelerated, with 115 vehicle thefts reported at DIA in just the first seven months of this year — up 125% compared to the same period in 2020, when 51 vehicles were reported stolen.
A similar partial-year comparison produced by the Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force in a recent report shows that metrowide, vehicles were stolen 73% more often in the first half of 2021 versus 2020. Thieves took off in an average 519 vehicles each week between Jan. 1 and June 30, the report says.
Even last year's lower stats ranked metro Denver third among U.S. metropolitan areas when vehicle thefts were compared to population, according to a report released last month by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
DPD's airport stats do not include locations outside DIA boundaries, including nearby hotels, private long-term lots and an off-site lot managed by DIA adjacent to the A-Line station at 61st and Peña Boulevard. Those also make frequent auto-theft targets , police records show.
DPD and airport officials say they have stepped up patrols by police and security officers in the DIA lots, including overnight. They have a lot of ground to cover, though license plate scanners and cameras at entry and exit points often aid theft investigators.
"I know that they're on it," said Mike Greenwell, a Lakewood police commander who heads the task force. "I know they see the problem. The issue is that they have so much land and they have so many vehicles, there's really no way that anybody can patrol that enough. I think they've done a really good job at putting in additional security measures."
Still, he added, "a lot of this comes down to either owner error," with cars left unlocked or valuables left visible. "Or, if a thief wants a car, they're going to find a way to get it."
Thieves often are repeat offenders
Greenwell said auto thieves often are prolific, typically stealing a car for personal use or to commit other crimes — and then abandoning or selling it for cheap within a few days. The most frequent targets across metro Denver in the spring were pickup trucks and mid-range sedans, not pricey cars.
The task force says metro police departments recover nearly 88% of stolen vehicles.
He suspects a major factor behind the surge in thefts during the pandemic is that measures to reduce jail crowding put more people arrested in non-violent crimes on the street.
In Finney's case, the Denver police officer who took her report ran her license plate and told her a witness to an attempted car theft had already spotted her vehicle. Three days later, after DIA parking managers reported suspicious activity in the east garage, police arrested the occupants of a Saab that had a stolen license plate, according to a statement of probable cause.
Police arrested a 23-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman suspected of stealing Finney's car and another vehicle. One received probation and the other's case is pending. Last week, both were arrested again in a new auto theft case in Broomfield, according to court records.
Authorities urge travelers who park at DIA to make sure they lock their vehicles and leave no valuables inside, even in the trunk. And DIA encourages its employees and the public to report any suspicious activity by using the See Say Airport smart-phone app or by calling 303-342-4211.
Finney praised the police officers who solved her case. But the overall experience left her frustrated.
"It is hugely time-consuming," she said. "I lost a bunch of stuff that I'll never get compensated for. I spent hours dealing with police, with the impound idiots … (and) with my insurance company. Then shopping for a car, buying a car, renting a car for months. It also cost me in terms of the hours that I couldn't work — tons of hours."
- Police missed chance to investigate Aaron Hernandez after 2012 murders
- Fay Vincent Gets The Last Word
- The night Lane Kiffin bolted Tennessee, an oral history
- Boston Strong 2013: An oral history of a city’s emotional journey
- A-Rod’s grievance hearing resumes
- Week 14 Cheat Sheet: Hopkins will lead Texans past Tom Brady, battered Patriots
- Blog: NFL agent Carmen Wallace offers new perspective on draft day
- 2013 NFL Week 9 rundown
|Moonar Wireless In-car Handsfree Fm Radio Transmitter Audio for Iphone Ipod Mp3/4 Play (check at Amazon)||5.0|
|Small HD 720P in Car Dash Camera Video Register Recorder Mini DVR Cam G-Sensor CR1004 CR1004 (check at Amazon)||2.0|
|F4A Wireless In-Car FM Transmitter 3.5mm Audio with Car Charger for iPhone 5S 5C iPad Air iPad Mini Retina iPod Touch 5 Nano 7 (check at Amazon)||3.3|
|Motorola TX500 Universal Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone - Black - Retail Packaging (check at Amazon)||4.1|
|Buyee Full Hd 1080p in Car Truck Dashboard Video Camera Recorder 5mp 140 Degree Lens (check at Amazon)||5.0|
|Sound Xtreme ST-910D CD SD Cassette iPod Ready MP3 WMA Stereo In-Car Receiver Entertainment System (check at Amazon)||1.8|
|Jabra CRUISER2 Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone in Retail Packaging. (check at Amazon)||3.6|
|BIRUGEAR 3 in 1 SD/MMC/USB/MP3 Wireless In Car FM Transmitter with Remote for MP3 Plaryer, Cellphone, iPhone, iPod Touch, Nano (check at Amazon)||1.0|
|Ppwinsky 3.5mm In-car Fm Transmitter Radio Adapter for Iphone 4s 5 Ipod Touch Galaxy S2 S3 Smart Phone Mp3 Tablet (Black) (check at Amazon)||1.0|
|VicTsing Portable Multipoint Wireless Hands-Free Bluetooth Sun Visor In-Car Speakerphone Car Kit w/ Car charger Adapter Black (check at Amazon)||3.0|
|Rechargeable LCD Displays Wireless 3.5mm In-car Fm Transmitter for iPhone5 4S 4 iPod Touch Galaxy S3 4 MP3 (check at Amazon)||1.0|
|shot-in Car Windshield Mini Tape Mount Holder for Mobius Action Cam #16 Car Key Camera (check at Amazon)||4.7|
|In Car Aux Adapter Cable Input Audio Cable for Honda Accord Civic,2006 After Honda CRV,2008 after 8-generation Accord (check at Amazon)||3.7|
|In Car USB & 3.5mm AUX Interface Adapter Cable Lightning for Hyunda Kia connect to iPHONE 5 5S 5C (white color) (check at Amazon)||1.0|
|Plug in Car 1 to 3 Cigarette Lighter Multiplier with USB Charger (check at Amazon)||4.0|
|WIFI in Car Backup Rear View Reversing Camera 1/3" Cmos Cam For Andriod 01 (check at Amazon)||1.0|
|Blueskysea® Free Gift Gel Pen + New WIFI in Car Backup Rear View Reversing Camera 1/3" Cmos Cam For Android (check at Amazon)||3.5|
|Brand DW-S123BP NEW 2X 12.3" IN CAR Left & Right SUN VISOR TFT LCD VIDEO MONITORS-Black(Pair) (check at Amazon)||5.0|
|CrazyOnDigital In Car Holder Mount Cradle for AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III (check at Amazon)||0.0|
|CrazyOnDigital Ionic In Car Holder Mount Charger for Apple iPhone 5G 6G - AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon - Black (check at Amazon)||0.0|
|AT&T HTC One X Fonus Retractable Micro USB Plug in Car Charger DC Power Adapter with Extra USB Charging Port (check at Amazon)||4.0|
|Thomas & Friends at The Airport Floor Puzzle in a Suitcase Box, 24-Piece (check at Amazon)||4.8|
|Sopranos Hummer H2 & Cadillac Escalade 2 Car In Per Mounted at Satriales Curbside street Scene (check at Amazon)||0.0|
|The Pope in Denver: Celebration & Challenge [VHS] (check at Amazon)||0.0|
|Elvis Presley Photo In Car Double-Sided Cigarette Case, ID Holder, Wallet with RFID Theft Protection (check at Amazon)||0.0|
|Heavy-Duty 'Super-Beam' 2,000,000 Candlepower Cordless Halogen Spotlight - Recharge in Car or at Home (check at Amazon)||0.0|
|101 Activities for Kids in Tight Spaces: At the Doctor's Office, on Car, Train, and Plane Trips, Home Sick in Bed . . . (check at Amazon)||0.0|
|Somalia at the Crossroads: Challenges and Perspectives in Reconstituting a Failed State (African Renaissance) (check at Amazon)||0.0|
|Signs at the Airport (Welcome Books: Signs in My World) (check at Amazon)||0.0|
|Gateway to the West: Designing the Passenger Terminal Complex at Denver International Airport (Building Monographs) (check at Amazon)||0.0|
Surge in car thefts at Denver airport challenges police, frustrates travelers have 1656 words, post on www.denverpost.com at September 16, 2021. This is cached page on USA Posts. If you want remove this page, please contact us.