Between 1980 and 2010, Colorado’s population surged, growing by nearly 75 percent or almost three million people. But after decades of consistently huge population growth, expansion in Colorado is showing signs of slowing. According to 2020 Census data, Colorado grew by a rate of about 15 percent since 2010, the slowest rate between Census periods in 30 years.
One potential reason that Colorado’s growth rate has shifted into a lower gear is that the state has a higher-than-average rate of property crime. While crimes like murder and assault understandably are headline-grabbing, the average person is at much greater risk of property crime than violent crime.
Where does Colorado stand when it comes to how common property crime is, how has it changed over time, and how does it vary from city to city?
At A Glance:
- With #1 being the best, Colorado is ranked #38 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
- You have a 2.59% chance of being a property crime victim in Colorado in the next 12 months.
- Colorado’s property crime rate is 23% higher than the average crime rate in the United States.
- Lakeside, Colorado, has the highest property crime rate in the state (25,652 incidents per 1,000 people).
- Lakeside is a statutory town in Jefferson County. Most of its area is occupied by the town’s namesake lake (Lake Rhoda), an amusement park, and a strip mall. According to the most recent Census data, only eight people live in Lakeside, which accounts for its eye-popping property crime rate.
Colorado’s combined property crime rate in 2019 was about 26 incidents per 1,000 people, five points higher than the overall U.S. rate. But Lakeside, a largely commercial area on Denver’s northwest side, has a rate almost a thousand times higher than that.
Colorado’s Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)
- Rate of Property Crime
- Colorado average:: 26.55 crimes per 1,000 people
- National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people
Property Crime in Colorado has declined over the past decade, which is positive news, but the three percent drop was the lowest among states whose property crime rates fell. Of the 49 states where property crime rates have fallen since 2010, the average drop was nearly 28 percent.
Colorado’s Overall Property Crime Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Average Rate of Property Crime:
- Colorado 10-year average: 26.55 crimes per 1,000 people
- National 10-year average: 25.61 crimes per 1,000 people
- -3% Has property crime increased or decreased during this time?
- There was a 3.14% decrease in property crime in Colorado from 2010 as compared to 2019.
- 2016 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in Colorado?
- The highest rate of property crime in Colorado was 2016 (27.51 crimes per 1,000 people)
- 2014 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in Colorado?
- The lowest rate of property crime in Colorado was 2014 (25.35 crimes per 1,000 people)
What incidents fall under the umbrella of property crime? Burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson are the four major property crime categories reported by the FBI. In every case, if the incident involves violence or threats of violence, it no longer is a property crime and is classified as a violent crime.
Colorado’s Property Crime Category Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Which type of property crime occurred the most in Colorado over the past decade?
- Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 19.16 crimes per 1,000 people.
- Average property crime rate by category
- Average burglary rate: 4.41 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average larceny rate: 19.16 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average vehicle crime rate: 2.98 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average arson rate: 0.19 crimes per 1,000 people
- Note: There were no FBI estimates for arson rates, so we used all available data that was reported by individual cities in Colorado.
- +72% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
- Vehicle theft was the only type of property crime to rise in Colorado since 2010, but the growth rate was huge, 72%.
- -33% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
- Among property crime rates that fell in Colorado, burglary is down the most, nearly 33%.
High property crime rates have a variety of influences and root causes. However, researchers have connected factors like poverty, unemployment, and urbanization to creeping property crime rates.
Among those three factors, urbanization and unemployment may be the biggest contributors in Colorado. More than 86 percent of the state’s residents live in urban areas, an increase from about 78 percent in 1970. And Colorado’s April 2021 unemployment rate (about six percent) was just above the U.S. average. Colorado has a below-average poverty rate, with about nine percent of the state’s residents living below the poverty line compared to the U.S. rate of about 12 percent.
But, of course, what’s true on the state level isn’t always the case on the community level, and crime rates vary dramatically across Colorado. Among cities that reported property crimes, Wray had the lowest rate, less than one per 1,000 people.
Top 5: Best Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data)*:
- Wray, Colorado (Yuma County)
- Kersey, Colorado (Weld County)
- Frederick, Colorado (Weld County)
- Limon, Colorado (Lincoln County)
- Springfield, Colorado (Baca County)
Bottom 5: Worst Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data):
- Lakeside, Colorado (Jefferson County)
- Black Hawk, Colorado (Gilpin County)
- Glendale, Colorado (Arapahoe County)
- Sheridan, Colorado (Arapahoe County)
- Lone Tree, Colorado (Douglas County)
* Excludes cities with zero property crime reported