Denver Mom Finds Stolen Car With No On-Duty Police To Help

A woman in Denver, Colorado took it upon herself to locate her stolen car when a 911 dispatcher informed her that there were no police officers on duty to help her.

Holly Kaufman, a working mother, told the story to a local news outlet. The incident took place on Monday March 25, when the woman came out of her workplace to find her Mazda SUV gone. She explained to the media that she had called 911 to report the theft and the dispatcher told her that there were no available officers to be assigned to the incident.

The dispatcher then warned Kaufman not to pursue the recovery of her vehicle alone, to which the mother said she would likely do anyway since she did not want her 4-year-old son to have to ride in a vehicle that had been torn up and had “drugs in it,” referencing the last time this happened to her.

Through a mobile app, Kaufman was able to find the location of the car, shut off its engine and launch its emergency alarms. She then told the 911 dispatcher the location of the car, telling her she would “be there in five minutes,” whether an officer met her there or not. The car was found in a Safeway parking lot less than 20 minutes after it was stolen.

Upon finding the vehicle, Kaufman uncovered a pipe, beer and Target receipts. Later, she described the experience as one which left her “feel[ing] super violated.” The mother said she is not “advising people” to follow her example, but did note that “something needs to change.”

Although the Denver Police Department also warned citizens not to pursue the recovery of auto thefts on their own—a crime which has become increasingly common and violent in the area in recent years—the reality of limited personnel to respond immediately to calls remains an issue.

In 2022, the Denver Police Department paid $8 million in overtime before August, compensating officers who had to work more to make up for limited personnel. The year before, it paid more than $10 million.

The Sheriff’s Department has also faced a staffing crisis, resulting in more than $12 million in overtime being paid in 2021 at the expense of taxpayers and risk of burnout for the officers.