Aurora, CO

Car thieves, juvenile delinquents targeted by Aurora councilmember

David Heitz
Photo byFrancisco Gonzalez/Unsplash

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Aurora, Colo.) An Aurora City Councilmember will sponsor a resolution Monday that would encourage the state to lift its cap on juvenile delinquent beds. A second resolution would target car thieves.

Councilmember Dustin Zvonek will propose the measures during a study session. Motor vehicle theft has skyrocketed in Colorado and Aurora. According to statistics provide by the city, Aurora saw 2,325 car thefts in 2019. That number has exploded to 6,854 in 2022, according to preliminary data.

Since 2019, catalytic converter theft in Colorado has increased 1,556 %. In 2021 alone, 2,485 Coloradans became victims.

“Motor vehicle and catalytic converter theft impact victims through disruption of their lives by having to work with insurance companies and securing alternative transportation, as well as the psychological mistrust resulting from the theft,” according to the resolution. “Law enforcement consistently report that stolen cars are often used in the commission of other serious offenses, including, but not limited to, burglaries, drug dealing, assaults, organized crime, murder, and aggravated robberies.”

Stealing cheap cars carries less of a penalty

The state legislature recently revamped its auto theft laws. Stealing cars valued at $2,000 or less results in a misdemeanor, possible jail time and up to a $1,000 fine. However, someone who stole a car valued at $100,000 could see a class 3 felony. “This value-based approach is fundamentally unfair and provides less access to justice to those who are more likely to be socio-economically disadvantaged by this crime,” according to the resolution.

In Aurora, the fine for stealing a car regardless of its value is $2,650 and up to a year in jail. Zvonek in June 2022 sponsored legislation that requires a mandatory jail sentence for car thieves.

Removing the cap on juvenile delinquent beds

Also Monday, Zvonek will introduce a resolution that calls on state officials to remove the limit on juvenile detention beds in the state. “There has been a drastic increase in the number of violent crimes being committed by juveniles in Aurora and the State of Colorado, as statistics from the Colorado
Division of Youth Services show an increase of 16 % in aggravated assaults with a firearm
committed by juveniles from 2016 to 2021 and an increase of over 141 % of juveniles committing
homicide from 2017-2021,” the resolution states. “The Aurora Police Department has seen a stark increase in violent crime committed by juveniles, most recently on Nov. 30, 2022, when juveniles opened fire on Aurora police officers at a shopping center near East 6th Avenue and Peoria Street.”
Aurora City Councilmember Dustin ZvonekPhoto byCity of Aurora

One of the suspects in the shooting was wanted for car theft and wearing a disabled ankle monitor. Currently, Colorado law only allows 215 juvenile beds statewide. That number was lowered from 327 by the legislature in 2021.

“This limitation of juvenile detention beds set arbitrarily by the Colorado Assembly limits the ability for the judicial districts to take violent juvenile offenders off the street for committing violent criminal offenses and thereby preventing them from committing further crimes,” according to the resolution. “In order for the juvenile justice system to work, judges in Colorado need to always have all sentencing options available to rehabilitate juveniles who commit violent crimes.”

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

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