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Vehicle thefts on the rise, car hacking a possibility

Car thefts on the rise, high-tech hacking a possibility

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The organization Coloradans Against Auto Theft names Pueblo and Colorado Springs as the top two hot spots for auto theft in the state.

Detective Joe Frabbiele with the Colorado Springs Motor Vehicle Theft Task Force told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that thieves usually target easy prey.

"Generally speaking, it's because somebody found the keys," Frabbiele said.  "The car's unlocked and they found the keys, or somebody leaves their vehicle running unattended."

Leaving a vehicle running unattended is not only dangerous, Frabbiele said, it's illegal.  

"As we're going to start approaching the Fall and the Winter, it'll become much more common when someone leaves a car running."

Car hacking has also made headlines recently.  Hackers have shown how they can control a car's computer system through a remote laptop or Bluetooth connection.  

Frabbiele said he has not seen any cases of car hacking in Colorado Springs, but it is a possibility and there are some cases that are mysteries.

"We have had a couple of newer cars -- brand-new 2013's -- where there's no damage to the ignition, there's no damage to the exterior," Frabbiele said. "And the owner was in possession of their only key."

Frabbiele said that though car hacking could become a rising trend, for now, most stolen cars are older model vehicles.

According to CAAT, the most commonly stolen car in Colorado is a 1996 Honda Accord, followed by the 1997 Honda Civic.  The 2000 Jeep Cherokee, 1997 Ford Pickups and 1999 Chevrolet Pickups round out the top five.

From January to July 2013, there have been 1,221 vehicle thefts in Colorado Springs.  That number is up from 956 in the same time period in 2012; and up from 636 vehicle thefts in the same time period in 2011.

Though Pueblo was named a theft hot spot, Pueblo Police Sgt. Eric Gonzales told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that the number of car thefts has decreased in Pueblo.  So far this year, there have been 301 vehicle thefts in Pueblo.  In 2012, there were 502.

Police say the best way to protect yourself is to keep valuables out of your car, always double-check that your doors are locked and keep your car keys with you.

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