Three cars left unattended in Denver and Commerce City are connected in a series of 'puffer' thefts

DPD defends using resources to find stolen puffers

DENVER - Three car thefts in two cities are connected in a bizarre fashion.

On Friday morning, a Commerce City woman warming up her vehicle while unattended -- "puffing" -- had it stolen from in front of her apartment.

"I wanted to come out screaming, 'Who took it? Why would they do something like this?'" said the Commerce City woman who did not want to be identified.

According to Denver police, the woman got a ride with another person to an area near 47th Avenue and Clayton Street. The woman and the driver got out of the vehicle and left it running  and unattended. That second car was also stolen, with the first victim's purse inside.

A short time later, an SUV running unattended was stolen from in front of a home at 49th Avenue and Vallejo Street, and the second stolen vehicle was left behind.

After about five hours, Denver police spotted the stolen SUV near 10th Avenue and Knox Street and made an arrest.

The owner of the SUV found the keys to the second stolen vehicle in his car when police recovered it.

DPD posted the details of the three crimes on the District One Facebook page, along with an explanation as to why officers use resources to help victims who could have prevented their own vehicle thefts.

"Some of those individuals are just joyriding, getting from 'point A to point B,' others are just using that vehicle as an instrument to further other crimes," said District One Commander Paul Pazen.

All three of these vehicles were found. Denver police did not issue a citation for the two Denver cases and Commerce City also did not issue a ticket.

"We don't want to add insult to injury and charge somebody with or cite them with an additional offense and pour salt on the wound," said Pazen.

Since November 1, 125 puffer vehicles have been stolen in Denver. About one-in-four cars stolen in District One since November have been puffers. In January, District one received 24 reports of stolen puffers.

"Just like if somebody left their door open to their home, that doesn't mean that it's OK for a thief to go in and burglarize the home," said Pazen.

According to Pazen, a gun was in one of the stolen puffers, which is another reason police use resources searching out those vehicles.

Many times, police will issue a warning to someone running their vehicle unattended. 7NEWS wanted to when education ends and responsibility begins.

"You're exactly right, at some point that advisement needs to turn into a citation. We've issued several citations as well," said Pazen.

Denver drivers who are issued a warning also receive a handout describing what to do when your car is stolen and how to protect yourself from being a victim again.

They also receive a handheld ice scraper sponsored by Coloradans Against Auto Theft.