ROCK ISLAND COUNTY - Car thieves are targeting small towns and rural areas outside of the Quad Cities, with law enforcement saying they are seeing a spike in stolen vehicles this month.
"We've had eight vehicles stolen in the last couple weeks, three more burglarized. Seven of those eight stolen were actually in garages," said Sheriff Gerry Bustos.
Bustos says the area in southwest Rock Island County was hardest hit.
"They're going into garages that are unlocked, going into cars that are unlocked, and keys are in it, and they're stealing them out of garages," he said.
Some subdivisions in and around LeClaire in Scott County were also hit this month, in one case, a gun was stolen out of a vehicle.
The neighborhoods are off the beaten path, and the Sheriff says he believes the thieves are part of the same "ring" of juveniles that have been operating in the area now for more than a year.
"The juveniles, they're branching out, they're going into these areas, being delivered into these areas," he said.
"We're talking about underage children, driving at high rates of speeds, it is a recipe for disaster. Regardless of how safe you think your neighborhood is, or how safe your rural community is, you have to lock up your car and keep your garage locked."