DENVER – Today, Senator Bob Gardner (R – Colorado Springs) joined fellow lawmakers at the State Capitol to unveil Senate Bill 23-097, a bi-partisan bill aimed at addressing Colorado’s ongoing auto theft crisis.
The bill will make all auto theft a felony, regardless of the value of the vehicle.
Colorado leads the nation in auto theft. In 2022, approximately 41,225 vehicles were stolen in the State of Colorado, a 10% increase from 2021. In the month of January, over 1,000 vehicles were stolen in the city of Denver alone.
“The unfortunate reality is crime continues to climb in Colorado, especially auto theft, and many of those who have fallen victim to this crisis have been those in disenfranchised and lower income communities,” Senator Gardner remarked. “By felonizing all auto theft, we can hold criminals accountable for their actions and send a clear message that this crime will not be tolerated. While this bill is a good start in the right direction, there is still plenty of work that must be done to solve this crime crisis we continue to face.”
“Colorado Republicans have been advocating for stronger public safety measures for years, and this bill is yet another example of this,” Senate Minority Leader Lundeen (R- Monument) said. “We are pleased to see our Democrat colleagues finally join us in this critical effort.”
“By eliminating value as a threshold for severity of punishment, we are treating auto theft victims equally, and ensuring equal protection under the law,” House Sponsor Matt Soper (R -Delta) commented. “Most Coloradans don’t have auto theft insurance. If their car is stolen the victim may lose their job or be unable to make important appointments like doctor’s visits. The state must take a hard line approach to auto theft. Those who steal should face felony charges, regardless of what the car or truck’s depreciated value is on the day of the crime.”
“It’s about damn time! Who doesn’t know at least one friend or family member in Colorado that hasn’t had their truck or car stolen in the last five years?” asked House Minority Leader Mike Lynch. “The soft-on-crime policies passed in this very legislature helped create the environment where we are now the #1 state in the nation for car theft. The passage of this bill would be the first step in turning that shameful trend around.”
The bill was introduced earlier this morning and was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it will be considered in the coming weeks.
(Note: this press releases was updated at 12:51PM MST to include the bill number and committee information.)