Colorado Auto Theft Investigators (CATI) and Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT) teamed up the week of January 15-21 to raise public awareness of “puffers”—a term coined by car thieves to describe a vehicle left running unattended.
CATI lead a concentrated effort by law enforcement agencies across the state to prevent puffer crimes by issuing warnings and citations to drivers who left their vehicles running unattended. In a recent CAAT survey, 35 percent of Coloradans admitted they didn’t realize the practice is illegal.
Statewide Efforts to Reduce "Puffers"
Targeted statewide efforts to step-up puffer enforcement for one designated week contributed to greater public awareness of CAAT’s winter puffer campaign that launched in December.
Radio spots, RTD bus boards, billboards in both Denver and El Paso County, and gas pump toppers reinforced messages to warn drivers about puffers.
Additionally, educational materials were distributed by auto theft task forces in communities across the state. CATI represents one of the many partners that make up the CAAT coalition, which receives funding from the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA) to combat auto theft through on-going statewide public awareness campaigns, education and citizen engagement.
“’Puffing’ is a common practice during the cold, winter months, because people want to start their cars to warm them up for a few minutes before they actually leave the house or to run a quick errand,” said Colonel James Wolfinbarger, Chief Colorado State Patrol. “Most people don’t realize that not only is this practice an invitation to car thieves, but it is also illegal in the state of Colorado. ‘Puffer Week’ is an opportunity to remind people to take common sense measures to protect themselves and their vehicles.”
At least 40 percent of Colorado drivers admit they have left their car running while unattended and 50 percent of stolen cars have the keys in them (CAAT survey and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). As part of a larger effort to reduce these statistics, task forces around the state have plans to take part in “Puffer Week.” For example, the Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force (MATT) will focus its efforts on education and citizen notification.
“As a member of CATI and CAAT, our goal is to not only arrest the car thieves, but also educate citizens on what they can do to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of auto theft,” remarked Sgt. Mike Becker, Lakewood Police Department and MATT Commander. “CAAT provided educational flyers and window clings that we will place on parked vehicles around the community as a reminder for citizens to stay alert and protect themselves.”
CAAT COALITION PARTNERS
- AAA Colorado
- Attorney General’s Auto Theft Prosecution Initiative
- Auto Theft Intelligence Coordination Center
- Boulder County Auto Theft Prevention Program
- Colorado Auto Theft Investigators
- Commerce City/Thornton/Adams County Auto Theft Prevention Program
- Denver Metropolitan Auto Theft Team (DMATT)
- East Metro Auto Theft Team (EMATT) - Robert Friel, 303-739-6022
- Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force (MATT) - Steve Davis, 303-987-7196
- National Insurance Crime Bureau
- Regional Auto Theft Team of Northern Colorado (NRATT)
- Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association
- South Area Auto Theft Task Force
- Southern Colorado Motor Vehicle Theft Task Force Cdr. Mike Haley, 719-382-8555
- Southwest Regional Auto Theft Team (SWATT) - Steve Nowlin, 970-385-1675 x 51808
- Western Colorado Auto Theft Task Force (WCATT) - Kate Porras, 970-244-3601
About Colorado Auto Theft Investigators (CATI)
Colorado Auto Theft Investigators (CATI) brings together public law enforcement investigators, and insurance company investigators, who are concerned with the prevention and investigation of motor vehicle thefts and kindred crimes; to promote the exchange of investigative information; and to create a forum for better communication among investigators in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Region and the Nation.
About Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT):
Coloradans Against Auto Theft (CAAT) is a statewide auto theft prevention initiative to educate the public on what they can do to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of auto theft. CAAT is a coalition of law enforcement agencies, the Colorado State Patrol, insurance partners, LoJack and AAA Colorado. CAAT and the state auto theft task force efforts are funded in part by the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA).