CO is #1… In Car Thefts

There’s a lot to love about Colorado – and when you live here, it’s likely that it’s number one for many things you enjoy doing. However, there’s one very inauspicious way that Colorado is the top dog. It’s number one in car thefts.

A study from the Common Sense Institute found that Colorado is the highest ranking city in the nation when it comes to car thefts. In fact, in the first six months of this year, the percentage of car thefts increased over last year’s numbers, almost certainly securing the status for yet another year in this position.

What is car theft in Colorado and what can you expect if you are charged with it? Read on to find out.

Motor Vehicle Theft in Colorado

When you are charged with motor vehicle theft in the state of Colorado, you can face charges in the first or second degree.

Aggravated theft of a motor vehicle in the first degree happens when a person obtains or knowingly controls the motor vehicle of someone else without their permission or through deception or threat, in combination with one or more of the following factors:

  • Having a vehicle in your possession for over 24 hours
  • Trying to disguise or alter the look of the vehicle
  • Trying to remove or alter the identification number of the vehicle
  • Committing a crime with the vehicle
  • Causing property damage of $500 or more
  • Causing bodily injury to someone else
  • Taking the vehicle out of the state of Colorado for 12 hours or more
  • Putting a different license plate on the vehicle

Second-degree aggravated theft of a motor vehicle happens when you knowingly take a motor vehicle with no permission from the proper owner, but none of the listed factors above are present.

It’s also important to be aware that these laws apply broadly. This means that the state definition a motor vehicle includes anything propelled by a force other than muscular power – plus, the vehicle cannot be on rails. So, this law covers cars and trucks as well as other motor vehicles such as scooters.

What Are the Penalties?

If you are convicted of first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft in Colorado, then you can face a few different penalties based on the details of your individual case.

Felony Class Three

You can be brought up on charges for a Class 3 felony in situations where the value of the vehicle exceeds $100,000 or if you have two previous convictions for theft of a motor vehicle. If you are found guilty of this level of felony, then you can face as many as 12 years behind bars and pay fines of as much as $750,000.

Felony Class Four

Class 4 felony theft of a motor vehicle is typically charged if the vehicle is worth $20,000 to $100,000. You can be sentenced to up to six years of incarceration and be responsible for fines of as much as $500,000.

Class 5 Felony

Class 5 felonies are typically charged if the value of the vehicle is under $20,000. You can face up to three years of incarceration for this level of felony and be ordered to pay fines of as much as $100,000.

For second-degree motor vehicle theft, you can face either a felony or a misdemeanor:

Class 5 Felony

For second-degree motor vehicle theft, the vehicle must be worth $20,000 or more. You can be sentenced to up to three years imprisonment and be ordered to pay $100,000 in fines.

Colorado Springs Auto Theft Defense Attorney

Class 6 Felony

For vehicles worth between $1,000 and $20,000, you can be sent to prison for up to 18 months and be ordered to pay $100,000 in fines.

Class 1 Misdemeanor

For vehicles worth less than $1,000, you face up to 18 months in jail and $5,000 in fines.


About the Author:

Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.