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Car thefts and break-ins higher than normal in Cedar Falls this year

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Cedar Falls police think a few groups of people are responsible for a rising trend in car thefts in 2021.

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) -- Police have noticed a rising trend in car thefts and car break-ins around the Cedar Valley. 

In Cedar Falls, Investigations Captain Jeff Sitzmann says 20 would be a high number for the city. So far, in 2021 there have been 40. 

"In almost every one of those cases it's been a matter of they have your keys and that's how they were able to get into the car," Sitzmann said. 

He warns people to not only lock their car doors but to make sure there aren't any valuables in the car, including car keys. Sitzmann says that's the most common way that thieves have been gaining access to the car or outright stealing it. All but 2 of the vehicles stolen this year have turned up. 

"We've had stolen cars recovered as far away as Kansas City, but, at the same time, we recover them 5 blocks away from where they were stolen in Cedar Falls," Capt. Sitzmann said. "I think its' a trend we're seeing in a lot of different communities."

The police division believes there are small groups responsible for the thefts. Sitzmann noticed that many of the stolen cars are used in other crimes, such as robbing a convenience store. 

He warns Iowans to be cautious in the next few months with the holidays approaching. Sitzmann says locking the car doors is the first defense. He advises people encourage any visiting family members to do the same. 

Car thefts rose nationwide in 2020 by 11% after falling for two years straight, according to the Insurance Information Institute. 

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