Auto Theft: A Crime A Special Task Force is Striving to Prevent

- Auto theft is a real problem in Rockford. In fact, it comes just behind Chicago in number of car thefts. But, there is a special group of investigators whose sole task is to combat the crime. They're called the Northern Illinois Auto Theft Task Force.

"...In the past few years, we've been very successful in recovering the majority of vehicles stolen now in the Boone/Winnebago County area," Inspector Jim Kerns states.

The vehicles aren't always found in the best of conditions. Sometimes they're badly burned or even totaled. The hardest problem Inspector Kerns says he faces is having the evidence needed to charge the thief responsible for the crime.

This task force isn't new. In fact, they have been around for 20 years. Inspector Kerns has been with the task force since 2004. Even so, for some they are still the best kept secret. As a result, they took the time to reach out to the public in a meeting at NIU Rockford, to let them know they're available to help.

"What we were finding out in our interactions with people in the public is that they had no idea who we were or what we do," adds Inspector Mark Galindo, Director of the task force.

There are 9 people on the  task force. Each one is specifically trained to solve, and whenever possible, prevent car thefts.

Inspector Kerns says there are some things you can do to help them, "Almost half of the vehicles stolen in the Rockford area now are being stolen running and being left unattended."

To prevent car theft, just follow these other tips Inspector Kerns shares: 1.) Always be sure to lock your car. Never leave the keys inside of it.
                                                                                                         2.) Never leave valuables in your car.
                                                                                                         3.) Buy a remote starter so your car can stay locked, if you need to
                                                                                                              leave it running and unattended.

"If you make it difficult for them, they’re going to go on to another car," Inspector Kerns asserts.

He also says if you drive an older car, from the 1990s or early 2000s, it is especially important to be vigilant. Car thieves in Rockford prefer to steal older models because new cars tend to have anti-theft equipment.

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