Four Wilton cars stolen in February

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Editor’s note: The following was submitted by the Wilton Police Department with regard to recent vehicle thefts within city limits:

The Wilton Police Department is asking everyone to please lock their vehicles.

Wilton and Durant alike are close-knit and trusting communities. We feel safe leaving our stuff unlocked because we trust our neighbors. Problem is that it’s not our neighbors committing these crimes. The bad guys know that we feel safe, so they target rural areas. And why not? We have nice cars, bank accounts, credit cards and everything else that the bigger cities have. Look anywhere and you’ll find rising crime rates in the rural communities across the board because we make it easy. Let’s change that!

In Wilton, we have had four cars stolen this month, all have been recovered and all have had some connection to Davenport. We located three of the cars in Davenport via GPS tracking and red light cameras. The fourth vehicle was located in Wilton, however the registered owners purse was taken and her credit card was used in Davenport. There are no specific times or days, and day or night doesn’t appear to matter. Two of the vehicles were stolen at 2 a.m. on a Friday, one of them was taken at 3 p.m. on a Sunday, and one at 6 p.m. on a Tuesday.

Each of these thefts were crimes of opportunity, no high-tech RFI boxes, no smashed windows, no picked locks, no “hot wiring.” Just keys left in cars. In fact, every stolen car from Wilton in the last decade has been because keys were left in cars.

Most of this is being perpetrated by a group of young people, 15-18 years old. Most vehicles are taken while they warm up or left running at a gas station etc. Many have been used in the commission of other crimes, up to and including drive-by shootings. Or the vehicles are just raced around the area playing car tag or “cat and mouse,” disregarding laws, causing property damage, and generally destroying the cars. They then dump it and grab another. No chop shops, just opportunity and the thrill of it.

Rest assured, It’s not just us. Every small town from Eldridge to Andalusia and beyond have empty driveways where a car is supposed to be. In 2020, more than 800 cars were stolen from around the Quad-City area, 70 in the month of December alone, and more than 120 so far this year. Davenport has enacted a city ordinance making it illegal to leave an unattended vehicle running, and has spent big money on a media campaign called “Lock it Down,” aimed at reminding people to lock their cars.

Vehicle theft is almost 100 percent preventable if we remember to always secure our valuables, lock the car and take the keys. Even in your garage, the same applies. Last year, Durant had a vehicle stolen out of the garage so it can happen. Just don’t let it happen to you.

— Wilton Police Chief David Clark

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