Law Enforcement Cracking Down on Puffers This Week
You may not have realized it, but this is “Puffer Week” in Colorado, and law enforcement agencies are cracking down on puffers. No, this has nothing to do with smoking marijuana or anything else. It’s about your car, and auto theft prevention.Many drivers, without the benefit of a garage, will go out and start their vehicle to get it warmed up, and will leave it unattended. This is called “puffing” and is illegal in the state of Colorado. Forty percent of Colorado drivers admit to doing this, and I have to confess I am one of them. When the temperature in the morning is 5 below, I can tell you with great certainty I’m not going to sit in my vehicle and wait for it to warm up. Maybe not this week, however. Law enforcement agencies across the state are making a concerted effort this week to prevent puffer activity crimes. Of course, the whole aim of the campaign is to make drivers aware of the threat of auto theft, and to reduce the incidents of stolen vehicles.
According to the National Incidents Based Reporting System(NCIBS), there were 70 reported auto thefts in Mesa County in 2011 and 149 in Grand Junction. The Montrose County Sheriff reported 17 stolen vehicles, and Montrose police reported 22. The city of Fruita reported 10 auto thefts.
The most likely place to have your car stolen, according to the NCIBS, is from a parking lot or a parking garage. The second highest theft rate occurs on highways and streets, and the third highest rate of thefts occurs at a residence.
By the way, Friday is when most auto thefts occur, and Sunday has the lowest rate of car thefts. And January and February have the highest theft rates of any months during the year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 50 percent of cars stolen have the keys in them. Eliminating the practice of puffing can help cut down on the number of stolen vehicles. Officials say your car is much less likely to be stolen if it’s locked and no keys inside. The idea is to make thieves’ jobs more difficult.
Marilyn Alvarez made the mistake of leaving her car running unattended on a cold winter morning last December. “I’ve seen people on the news who had their car stolen because they left it running unattended, but I had never heard of that happening in my neighborhood,” said Alvarez, who lives in a residential neighborhood in Westminster. “My car was parked in my assigned space, just a couple feet from my front door. I still can’t believe that someone stole my car, in my neighborhood, in just a matter of minutes.”
Of course, if someone stole my truck, which is held together with duct tape, the thieves would probably return it to me with their apologies and condolences.