Denver, CO

Flying over Memorial Day? Here’s how DEN travelers can protect their cars

Heather Willard

Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Nearly 730,000 Coloradoans are projected by AAA Colorado to contribute to the expected crowds of over 39.2 million Memorial Day travelers this weekend.

For many, this means a trip to Denver International Airport. Nationwide, air travel volumes are forecast to rise 28% from last year in the second-largest yearly increase in more than a decade, according to AAA Colorado. There are 3 million Americans expected to fly this Memorial Day, falling just shy of 2019 levels. A higher percentage of travelers (7.7%) are choosing to fly than in 2019.

Car thefts continue to be an issue at Denver International Airport, with rates mirroring a rise in car thefts across most of Denver and Colorado.

It’s part of a surge of crime reported by law enforcement across the region, state and country. During 2021, Denver Police arrested 46% more suspects for auto thefts across the city, compared to the average of the three prior years.

DPD maintains seven regions for patrol. One region includes the airport and surrounding infrastructure, such as long term parking lots. For that region, there was an average of 50 vehicle thefts during 2019-2021 for the period between Jan. 1 through May 21. This year, there have been 169 such thefts during the same time period, according to data provided by DPD.

Items are also being stolen from vehicles at a higher rate, according to DPD data. From 2019-2021, there was an average of 28 such reports. During the same period of 2022, 109 thefts from vehicles have been reported to Denver Police.

“The Denver Police Department continues to perform patrol in parking lots and garages at DEN, along with auto theft prevention outreach to businesses,” said DPD Spokesperson Kurt Barnes via email. “We continue to partner with (the airport) on patrol and security and we encourage travelers to take preventative steps to protect their vehicles and property.”

The department maintains a “Lock Out Crime” campaign to encourage and remind drivers to protect their property. Specific tips include:

  • Lock all doors, roll up all windows and take the keys and any garage door openers out of the vehicle
  • Remove bags or other items in your car — anything can entice a thief
  • Never leave the vehicle running unattended, even for short periods — criminals seek easy-to-take cars to use for other crimes
  • Park in well-let, busy areas — more people around means fewer chances for theft
  • Utilize an alarm system and/or steering wheel lock device

Airport security have also noticed the upward trend of thefts, addressing it in a pre-holiday press release in November 2021. The airport and DPD increased patrols at the time, but warned that passengers must take proper steps to secure their vehicles despite the law enforcement presence.

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Public safety reporter in DougCo, Denver metro. Previously: Pueblo Chieftain public safety reporter, Athens Messenger associate editor. Caffeine fiend, cat mom and lover of all things spooky.

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