BETTENDORF -- The alarming rate of car thefts in the Quad Cities is not showing any signs of slowing down, with one community issuing an alert this week to remind people to lock up their cars.
"I don't know if we've seen anything like this. An almost epidemic," said Capt. Keith Kimball of the Bettendorf Police Department.
The department issued an alert to the cell phones of Bettendorf residents, after several vehicles were stolen, three just this week.
"We used the code red alert system and we actually sent out a message to all our citizens. Just to make them aware, " Capt. Kimball said.
On Wednesday, a driver reported his car was stolen in the 1700 block of Mississippi Avenue, but the juvenile thief didn't get very far.
"In this case, the vehicle was only driven a few blocks because the person who was driving it wasn't aware of the streets and got stuck in a dead end and got out and bailed," said Capt. Kimball.
Still, police weren't able to catch the thief.
Last month, Quad City law enforcement held a joint news conference to launch a "Lock It Up" initiative to try and get drivers to lock their vehicles.
Close to 800 vehicles have been stolen in the area over the past 12 months, 250 this year alone. That's two vehicles a day.
"We have a pretty good idea of a group of individuals who are doing it,but again, you kind of have to catch them in the act. We need the community's help to get this done. What we're afraid of is, it is going to escalate to the next level where, now they become more brazen, and start carjacking," he said.
A first step, he says, is to eliminate the opportunity for the juvenile thieves to target your vehicle by not leaving it running while unattended, and locking it up.