Colo. lawmakers approve ‘chop shop’ legislation

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(Photo: MGN Online)

(Photo: MGN Online)

DENVER — A bill that targets organized car theft rings was approved by the Colorado General Assembly and now awaits the governor’s signature.

If the state passes the law, Colorado will join 14 other states, as well as the federal government, in having legislation that aims  to criminalize the specialized behavior involved in stealing vehicles and stealing their parts for profit, stated a release from the office of the Colorado Attorney General.

A weakness in the existing law was identified by the Attorney General Auto Theft Initiative. The initiative found that current law requires prosecutors to link each individual stolen car back to the person accused of stealing it. Additionally, the law stated that prosecutors must prove each car’s value and state an aggravated factor — chop shop owners distance themselves from the stolen vehicles, which makes it  difficult to stop chop shops from operating under these existing judicial conditions.

House Bill 14-1084, or the Crimes Related to Motor Vehicles bill, looks to create a more comprehensive approach to apprehending chop shop owners, allowing prosecutors to charge owners with a class four felony and use recovered vehicles as evidence when prosecuting cases, said the release.

“More than 11,000 motor vehicles were stolen in Colorado in 2012 and that’s a $74.2 million problem that this bill addresses,” said Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. “I credit Representative Carole Murray with passage and thank Representative Lois Court and Senator Michael Johnston for their hard work getting HB14-1084 passed. I urge Governor Hickenlooper to now sign it.”