For Aaron Ingalls, the mess inside his van is now cleaned up, but the damage is already done.
"I spent a lot of time cleaning it out. There were cigarette burns, stains, they had written all over the ceiling," Ingalls said.
Boulder Police believe his van, which was stolen from the 1900 block of Bluff Street two weeks ago, was the target of an organized car theft ring. According to police, 26 vehicles have been reported stolen in city limits since December 1, 2015. The thefts police said mostly happened overnight.
While many of the vehicles have been unlocked and running or a spare key is nearby, there have been vehicles that have been broken into and had the ignition tampered," said Boulder Police PIO, Shannon Cordingly.
Investigators believe the group is driving a light-colored minivan which was caught on surveillance video casing a parking lot then driving off. Cameras also caught blurry images of several of the suspects police believe are involved.
"We also believe they are responsible for a large number of thefts in the areas other than Boulder," Cordingly said.
Cordingly said many of the stolen cars have been found in the Denver metro area. Ingalls was found parked in at a motel, full of stolen electronics and needles.
"I didn’t have insurance for theft so I’m grateful to have it back," Ingalls said.
Boulder Police encourage residents to be vigilant and report and suspicious people, vehicles or activity in their neighborhoods as well as:
*Lock your vehicles at all times
*Never leave your car running, especially while it's unattended or unlocked
*Keep windows closed
*Install and audible alarm or visible anti-theft device such as a club
*Park in well-lit areas
*Consider installing a GPS tracking system
*Don't leave valuable personal property in your vehicle.
If you have any information about the suspects or vehicle thefts, call Detective Kipp Euler at 303-441-3393 or the Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).