(The Center Square) – The Aurora City Council passed an ordinance on Monday night that increases penalties for people charged in municipal court with auto theft.

The new ordinance increases the penalty for first-time offenders to a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 days in jail. Repeat offenders will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 120 days in jail.

The measure was sponsored by Councilman Dustin Zvonek and supported by council members Danielle Jurinsky, Angela Lawson, Curtis Gardner, and Steve Sundberg, as well as Mayor Pro Tem Francoise Bergan.

“The opponents of this measure argue that these sentences won’t make a difference in reducing the number of vehicles stolen in Aurora, but every day that a habitual car thief is behind bars is a day that they are not out stealing another vehicle,” Mayor Mike Coffman said in a statement.

The new ordinance comes as auto thefts are on the rise in Colorado. According to state law enforcement, auto thefts are up more than 18% so far this year.

Colorado State Patrol Chief Matthew Packard said in a recent statement that areas along the Front Range have been hit hardest by the increase in auto thefts.

“The most recent data shows that over 3,630 vehicles were stolen across Colorado in the month of May with metropolitan communities along with the front range from Ft. Collins running south through Trinidad feeling the impact,” he said.

Coffman said that auto thefts in Aurora have increased by more than 40% between 2019 and 2022.

Overall, more than 5,500 vehicles have been stolen in Aurora over that time, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

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