Organized Crime on the Rise in 2014

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Posted Thu, Feb 20, 2014

Arvada Patrol  Officer Anderson performs a pre-operational check on his cruiser prior to his shift. [Photo by Tommy Trask]

Arvada Patrol Officer Anderson performs a pre-operational check on his cruiser prior to his shift. [Photo by Tommy Trask]

ARVADA, Colo.­­­­—The State of Colorado has a growing problem. In fact, it is becoming such a public awareness issue, that Denver metropolitan-area residents might be surprised to learn the details and the severity of a steadily increasing crime that is plaguing neighborhoods more and more everyday. The Arvada Police Department is so concerned, that it has publically stated that too many residents are guilty of the crime of “puffing”–a seemingly harmless crime that can lead to far worse things.

Olde Town Arvada on a cold Feb. morning [Photo by Tommy Trask]

Olde Town Arvada on a cold Feb. morning [Photo by Tommy Trask]

Jill McGranahan, the public information officer for the Arvada P.D., wants the public to know that if they leave their vehicle outside puffing on a cold, wintery, Colorado morning–bad things can and will happen very quickly–quicker than one might expect. “Then they come outside and have no car at all,” McGranahan said. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Patrol Officer Dennis Sauter, a six-year veteran serving in the Arvada P.D. explained the crime as being a cold weather phenomenon where people are inside on a cold morning doing a number of ridiculous things, such as, shaving and showering. Meanwhile, their unlocked, unattended, visibly puffing vehicle sits outside.

“It’s the suburbs. It’s people that live in towns that think its Mayberry and they leave their cars unlocked and they do a lot of these small town things but we’re very close to a big city,” Sauter said, before explaining that remote-start is legal and cheap. As long as the doors are locked, the ignition is locked, no key is inside and the brake is properly set–only then are you legal when leaving an unattended vehicle running in colorful Colorado. Patrol Officer Sauter and the rest of the Arvada P.D. Patrol Officers will check when they knock on your door after seeing a puffer in your driveway.

 Who is stealing idling cars?

Cold hard criminals cruising around middle and upper-middle class neighborhoods in freshly stolen cars, that’s who, not vagrants or drifters, these criminals are highly organized. Sauter said, “It happens all over the Denver

A peaceful Arvada neighborhood on an icy morning. The perfect location for a puffer theft. [Photo by Tommy Trask]

A peaceful Arvada neighborhood. The perfect location for a puffer theft. [Photo by Tommy Trask]

metro area and it’s a big problem, it is the easiest way to steal a car.” Then, Sauter said, “very rarely is it actually people on foot … for lack of a better way of putting it they do this for a living, this is how they make their money.” One car full of criminals can quickly turn into a handful of stolen vehicles in a short time span. It is happening more and more often and communities need to be aware of this issue.

Puffer's are not hard to spot. [Photo by Tommy Trask]

Puffer’s are not hard to spot. [Photo by Tommy Trask]

Desiree Valles, a North Denver suburb resident had her car stolen while it was puffing merely a few feet away from the open door to her home with her inside. Needless to say, Valles’ puffing wake-up call came early before 7 a.m. on one frigid winter morning. While she didn’t recover all of the property she had in her car at the time of the theft, Valles was extremely lucky, she actually got her car back the same day and received some minor restitution in the court case which followed.

“I was thankful he didn’t come in my house,” Valles said. The thief who stole her vehicle was unlucky enough to pull into a chop-shop, the exact same morning Denver police happened to be busting it. “They were undercover in regular clothes, so when he pulled in, he didn’t realize he was pulling in with the cops there,” Valles said. She was also very concerned that the criminal had her house keys, additionally, she stayed at her house that day because she had no way to lock it–Valles was also afraid that the thief might return to her home to break in at the same time she was sitting there. Her personal security inside her own house was non-existent until she had the locks on her doors changed, the thief was in jail, and time passed without further incident. She was one of the lucky ones.

Wheat Ridge resident Ivan Escarcega isn’t a fan of organized crime being on the rise in his community. “I’ve been around Denver my whole life and my biggest fear for the city of Denver, is people not fighting for anything. That’s when people take the easy way and they don’t realize the consequences for themselves and the destruction that they are creating,” Escarcega  said. Escarcega has a message for anyone who may be thinking of engaging in puffer theft. “If you want to ruin your own life go ahead, but don’t bring everybody else down with you.” He is not a fan of people who want the title, but don’t want to do all of the hard work it takes to get one.

Not even crime going up can bring Ivan Escarcega down. [Photo by Tommy Trask]

Not even crime going up can bring Ivan Escarcega down. [Photo by Tommy Trask]

 Tuesday morning between 5-8 a.m., is the leading morning for puffer theft in Arvada. Good, honest, hard-working citizens and students are being subjected to organized crime syndicates within their peaceful suburban neighborhoods–they have targets painted on their backs to be precise. Puffer crime theft has risen considerably across the state so far in 2014. So much so, that Arvada P.D. wants the public to know that everybody should understand that it is criminals in cars–not foot traffic that are hunting vehicles to chop up quickly and make a few bucks. That’s what a hot Mercedes is worth on the street on a cold day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tommy Trask

About Tommy Trask

Thomas Trask is a Denver-Area Freelance Writer and Convergent Journalist.

View all posts by Tommy Trask

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