‘Car borrowing’ a unique problem in Summit County | VailDaily.com

‘Car borrowing’ a unique problem in Summit County

Ashley Dickson
Breckenridge, CO Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado – When 16-year old Kyla Gray heard that her car wasn’t where she had parked it in front of her house in Breckenridge, Colorado the night before, she thought her father was playing on a joke on her.

“I kept thinking that my dad was trying to teach me a lesson because I left the keys in it,” she said. “It never really crossed my mind that something was going to happen.”

Fortunately for Gray, her red 1994 Ford Bronco was not so much stolen as “borrowed,” part of what police suggest is a growing trend in crimes of opportunity.

Like many in the county, Gray didn’t see anything wrong with leaving the keys in her vehicle, but when she realized it had been stolen, her thoughts quickly turned to the items she had left in the front seat.

“I was really freaked out because I remembered that my wallet and some checks were left in the front seat,” Gray said. “If someone saw the keys in it, then they definitely saw the wallet, as well.”

After calling the police, Gray got a call from a friend who saw the vehicle parked in a driveway in the Wellington neighborhood, some four miles away from her home on Shekel Lane.

Officers from the Breckenridge Police Department found the Bronco parked in front of an unoccupied home belonging to homeowners from Texas.

There was no obvious damage to the vehicle when it was found, and the wallet, checks, and money were still on the seat where they had been left.

“Someone just drove it a couple of miles and then ditched it,” said Kayla’s father, Dr. David Gray.

In the past two years, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office has received 31 stolen vehicle reports, and in nearly one-third of those cases, the keys had been left in unlocked vehicles.

Cars with keys left in them are often taken by people who simply need a ride, according to Paulette Horr with the sheriff’s office, and vehicles will then be left in different parts of the county or the state.

“(Gray) should feel very fortunate that nothing was damaged or stolen, because all the tools were in place for a major identity-theft situation,” Summit County Sheriff John Minor said. “These kinds of things are truly preventable but they still keep happening.”

Minor believes that crime in the county can be reduced by 10 percent if residents would simply lock the doors to their homes and cars and remove valuables from their cars when they aren’t in use.

“Imagine reducing crime without having to spend a penny,” Minor said. “All it requires is a change in the public mindset.”

While many locals cling to the idea that Summit County is a sleepy community with very little crime, a rash of car break-ins last fall proved that thieves will strike if the opportunity to steal is too easy to pass up.

“A few simple steps can really prevent a lot of headaches,” Minor said. “These are crimes of opportunity, pure and simple.”

Ashley Dickson can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at adickson@summitdaily.com.

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