DENVER --- The Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority has received eight grant awards totaling nearly $2 million to target and combat auto theft statewide.
The grant money will help pay for seven multi-jurisdictional auto theft task forces made up of 34 law enforcement agencies across Colorado. There are also monies dedicated to auto theft prevention technology and training to support efforts to arrest and prosecute auto thieves.
"The bad economy threatens to increase Colorado's auto theft problem at a time when local law enforcement has been forced to slash budgets for auto theft investigators and resources," said Matt Cook, CATPA board president. "Auto theft is a moving target, so these funds support multi-jurisdictional auto theft task forces that pool resources and effectively crack down on auto theft beyond city and county borders."
SB-60, the Colorado law that went into effect July 1, 2008, established new funding for CATPA. The statute gives priority to multi-agency applicants that target auto theft in different geographical regions of the state. CATPA is a cash-funded program that awards grants through the annual collection by insurance companies of $1 for every insured vehicle. State legislators intended this to be a direct investment by consumers to combat auto theft and ultimately lower car insurance premiums. Auto theft investigations also target related crimes, such as drug running, gang activity, burglary and organized crime.
Eight grant recipients received one-year approval. Based on quarterly evaluation of results, awards may be extended for multi-year funding in order to establish long-term, ongoing regional auto theft prevention efforts. The CATPA grant award recipients are: Regional Auto Theft Team of Northern Colorado, Denver Metropolitan Auto Theft Team, Southern Colorado Motor Vehicle Theft Task Force, Jefferson County Regional Auto Theft Task Force, South Area Auto Theft Task Force, Operation Southwestern Auto Theft Prevention and the Multi-Jurisdictional Project to Reduce Automobile Theft.
A grant was awarded to the Colorado Auto Theft Investigators Association for statewide scholarships to law enforcement and prosecutors for investigative training.
Several of the auto theft task forces already exist, thanks to previous CATPA funding, and have proven success at reducing auto theft. These new CATPA funds have bolstered ongoing efforts and generated new multi-jurisdictional collaboration statewide.
The Regional Auto Theft Team of Northern Colorado (NCRAT) is a collaborative effort among nine agencies: Weld County Sheriff, Loveland PD, Longmont PD, Larimer County Sheriff, Greeley PD, Fort Collins PD, Colorado State Patrol, National Insurance Crime Bureau and Colorado Department of Revenue.
To date, NCRAT has recovered a total of 235 stolen vehicles valued at $2.6 million and arrested 98 persons on auto-theft related charges.
"On behalf of the participating agencies of the Regional Auto Theft Team of Northern Colorado, I would like to express our excitement regarding the 2009 CATPA grant award," said Sgt. Greg McComas of the Colorado State Patrol. "The funds will allow us to continue our multi-jurisdictional approach to combating auto theft and associated crimes in Northern Colorado."
The Jefferson County Regional Auto Theft Task Force is a new full-time task force made up of Lakewood PD, Arvada PD, Wheat Ridge PD and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Dept. The grant helps fund seven full-time investigators and specialized auto theft prevention tracking equipment.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to get aggressive on auto theft using a multi-faceted, team approach," said Commander Mike Becker of the Lakewood Police Department. "We will be better equipped to target, arrest and get the bad guys, those career criminals, off the streets, and at the same time educate our citizens so they can be more aware and don't make themselves easy targets for auto theft."
The Southern Colorado Reduce Auto Theft Task Force (RAT) is composed of Colorado Springs PD, Pueblo PD, Pueblo County Sheriff's Dept., Fountain PD, Monument PD, El Paso County Sheriff's Dept. and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The Southern Colorado Metro Rat Task Force's grant monies will purchase six license plate readers and pay for overtime associated with joint task force operations such as surveillance, inspections at auto shops and scrap yards, and prevention/educational efforts.
"This is an opportunity for the partners to conduct joint operations related to stolen vehicles, as well as enhancing information sharing within law enforcement entities and aiding in public education efforts to prevent motor vehicle theft," said Lt. Col. Jane Anderson of the Colorado Springs Police Department. "With the continuous budget cuts and staff constraints, this couldn't have come at a better time!"