Police locate missing vehicles after three 'puffer' thefts in Denver, Commerce City

'Puffer' thefts leave drivers out in the cold

DENVER - Three “puffer” thefts in Denver and Commerce City prompted a complicated search for the stolen vehicles Friday.

Vehicles belonging to two Commerce City residents and one Denver resident were stolen after their owners left them unattended—or “puffing.”

The first victim started her car and left it unattended when the suspect drove away with the vehicle. The victim rode with an acquaintance to the 4700 block of Clayton Street in Denver, where they stopped and left the second car puffing for a moment. The second vehicle was then stolen along with the first victim’s purse, which she left in the car.

The second vehicle was found a short time later, abandoned in the 4900 block of Vallejo Street. The car was found by a resident whose own vehicle had been stolen while it was warming up moments before.

Police located the third vehicle near W. 10th Ave and Knox Court about 11a.m. The suspect driving the vehicle was arrested without incident. An investigation into other potential thefts by the suspect is ongoing.

District 1 police have warned northwest Denver residents not to leave their vehicles unattended. Drivers may receive citations for leaving a car running and unattended. These citations are intended to reduce the frequency of puffer thefts.

In District 1 alone, 44 running, unattended cars have been stolen in the last three months, according to Coloradans Against Auto Theft, a coalition of law enforcement agencies and other organizations dedicated to preventing crimes like puffer thefts.

Stolen vehicles are often used to commit other crimes such as residential burglaries, robberies, drive-by shootings, and other thefts, the organization says. Victims can lose items left in the vehicles such as purses, wallets and even firearms.

Learn more about Colorado auto theft at www.lockdownyourcar.org.