DAVENPORT, Iowa — Police in Scott County are renewing the reminder for everyone to lock their cars, as part of the "Lock It Down" campaign.
"Stolen cars are nearly 100% preventable, if we lock it down," said Maj. Jeff Bladel with the Davenport Police Department.
Throughout the Quad Cities area in 2021, which includes Illinois and Iowa, police reported more than 800 cars were stolen, an increase from 2020, when about 750 cars were reported stolen, according to Bettendorf Police Chief Keith Kimball.
Since 2018, Davenport Police have seen a 21% decrease in stolen cars, according to Bladel. However, Bladel said about 500 cars were stolen in 2021.
In Bettendorf, Police Chief Keith Kimball said stolen cars in that city increased in 2021, from 42 in 2020 to 55 this past year.
In a statement from the Rock Island Police Department on January 13, car theft reports increased in Rock Island as well, from 141 in 2020 to 159 in 2021.
In an email from the Moline Police Department, officials there provided this statement when asked for the number of stolen car reports in 2020 as compared to 2021: "We can't accomplish this request in short order. No one is available today."
"Geographically, it doesn't matter where you live," Kimball said.
Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane said rural communities are potential victims, too. He said some people who live in those areas feel more safe in a smaller community.
"What happens is groups of people come into those neighborhoods in those rural areas and they steal a number of cars and they have a pretty easy time doing it," Lane said.
However, that isn't stopping the thieves from migrating to those areas.
"They're not giving up and they're reaching out to other places," Lane said. "They're reaching out for their easy targets and they're going outside the city of Davenport more often."
Police are now asking for the community's help to combat what Bladel calls a crime of opportunity.
"If the opportunity presents itself and the keys are left in the car or the car is left running, the opportunity is there to be a victim of the theft," Bladel said.
A simple reminder to "Lock It Down" could help prevent complicated consequences.
Police said the biggest concern is getting the stolen cars off the streets as quickly as possible before they can be used in other serious crimes.
Police stress a car can still be stolen if it is started and left running, even if the owner or driver walks away with the key fob.