Night Time Police Intervention

When crime rises, people try to take precautions to avoid danger. If your nearby public park has been overtaken by people in illegal tents struggling with drug addiction and mental health, you walk your dog somewhere else at dusk.

But it’s a different thing, all together, when crime is the kind you can’t avoid. Just ask the nearly 600 Coloradans so far this year whose cars were stolen from lots surrounding Denver International Airport, as The Gazette reported Sunday. Or, ask the 398 people across Denver who have reported their vehicle stolen just this month alone, according to the Denver crime map. That’s 28 stolen cars a day!

As the #DefundThePolice debacle continues to abet this dangerous reality, more Coloradans are realizing the more you coddle crime, the less likely you can outrun — or, even, outdrive — the criminal element that is permitted to persist around you.

That’s acutely the reality Coloradans in assorted communities now face with skyrocketing car thefts. This trend isn’t a criminal undercurrent limited to more dangerous neighborhoods. What’s now more alarming is it’s people in other places, such as at DIA or in more affluent mountain-town resort communities, who are reaping what was sown by policy makers who went soft on crime.

The people of Summit and Eagle counties, for example, have found out in recent months that they are just a carjacking away from career criminals on the Front Range who have run amok. That’s at least in part courtesy of revolving-door justice — fostered by a new, self-styled “justice reform” movement.

Consider what authorities discovered when making an arrest up on Vail Pass last June.

“It was not your typical Monday afternoon in the High Country,” state trooper Jacob Best told the Vail Daily. Best had to jump through a car window to put a vehicle in park after the car’s driver, allegedly under the influence, passed out behind the wheel of the stolen vehicle before attempting to flee the scene. Best said it turned out Eagle, Summit and Garfield counties were a part of a major theft ring. A key link in that criminal enterprise was the Lakewood man, whom police apprehended at gunpoint.

The same man had been booked and released multiple times in previous months for crimes related to car thefts — most recently just 35 days prior when he was arrested in Adams County.

At the time of the June 14 incident, he was out on bond for at least six different motor vehicle theft-related charges. And, during his arrest in Adams County, the chronic criminal was found in a stolen vehicle with an estimated $30,000 of catalytic converters, some likely stolen from the Vail Mountain School parking lot.

Just as sheriff’s departments in high country mountain towns are aware of this new crime wave, so are the officials at DIA. So bad has auto theft become at the long-term lots surrounding the airport that, on Friday, the Denver Police Department announced it’s increasing patrols around parking areas.

As the Gazette reported, at least 593 vehicles have been reported stolen this year from the airport and nearby lots. That all-time high for vehicle thefts in the area — an average of nearly two a day — is already near double 2020’s previous record-high of 313 reported stolen in the area, which has 40,000 parking spaces.

While they scramble to bring on people to fill an airport workforce in dire need of bodies — including long-term lot shuttle bus drivers and TSA security agents — DIA officials also pledge to increase police patrols through the coming holiday season, when many more travelers from across the state are expected to park in airport lots.

For the sake of our safety, let’s hope they’ll have the manpower to beef up the police presence, not only at DIA but in the city at large. Last week, Denver’s City Council approved a budget that included $13.6 million to hire new first responders at the Denver Police, Sheriff and Fire departments and 911 call-takers in order “to restore our safety workforce after historic attrition.”

Meanwhile, Coloradans can follow the lead of other states fed up with spiking crime. In Minneapolis, a year after the death of George Floyd was exploited as kindling for the #DefundThePolice movement, voters this month strongly opposed abolishing the city’s police department. And, in New York, voters elected Eric Adams, a tougher-on-crime candidate who said he’ll reinstitute the New York Police Deparment’s anti-crime units. That comes in the face of Black Lives Matter leaders threatening more riots if the city reinstitutes the unit.

The decision is yours, Colorado. Choose wisely.

The Gazette editorial board

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