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Quad Cities police departments urge community to lock cars

Davenport police said car theft increased 30 percent in 2020. Bettendorf police said they saw an increase specifically in November and December 2020.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — A car is stolen in the U.S. every 33 seconds, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Over the last several months, Quad Cities law enforcement have noticed stolen car rates have increased, too.

It's a problem that dates back several years. 

"This is not just a police problem. This is a community issue," said Bettendorf Police Chief Keith Kimball.

Kimball said more than 750 cars were stolen in the Quad Cities in 2020, including both Iowa and Illinois sides.

The most recent uptick was in November and December 2020, Kimball said.

"We would maybe get a handful, maybe less than 5 a year, and in Bettendorf we've been averaging the last three years between 60 and 60 and 70," Kimball said.

Davenport Police Chief Paul Sikorski said his department saw nearly 500 stolen cars in 2020. That was a 30 percent increase in stolen cars over 2019, Sikorski said.

"It's frustrating for our officers doing enforcement, because they're constantly dealing with stolen cars every day," Sikorski said.

It is happening across the Quad Cities region. Doorbell video from Geneseo, Ill., shared on social media, captured a group of people attempting to open car doors parking in a driveway, before the group ran away.

Another video from Coal Valley, Ill., shows a group of people drive a car out of a neighborhood driveway, then run away after the car becomes stuck on the icy road.

"The unfortunate thing is that these cars when they're being stolen they aren't always just used to joy ride," Kimball said.

Kimball and Sikorski acknowledged there is added risk when police find and chase a stolen car.

"That's exactly why we have a policy that is, that is somewhat restrictive when it comes to stolen vehicles. Because it is inherently dangerous," Sikorski said.

Both chiefs also offered the same solution.

"Before I go to bed I hit, you know I hit my key fob, I look out the window, I watch it, you know, blink or the horn honk and I know it's locked before I go to bed," Kimball said.

Kimball said a majority of stolen vehicles are recovered by police.

"A lot of these cars are driven hard or often are involved in hit-and-run accidents or they’ve hit a fixed object to the point where the cars aren’t drive-able anymore," Kimball said. "Then it’s really up to the owner and insurance company to go from there."

The "Lock It Down" campaign organized by area law enforcement agencies is similar to the campaign run in 2017, called "Lock it Up."

RELATED: Car thefts on the rise in the Quad Cities; police warn stolen vehicles are often used to commit other crimes

"Some of my friends make fun of me for Lock It Down. ‘Wasn’t it Lock it Up three years ago?’ Yeah, it was, and we as a community need to get it," Sikorski said.

These two departments answer our calls. Now, they're hoping we will answer their's.

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