Iowa state lawmakers are considering a plan to crack down on car thieves.
Legislation introduced this week by Senator Roby Smith would increase the penalties when car thieves commit other felonies in the process.
Recent surveillance videos provide a snapshot of the problem here in the Quad Cities.
Police say a lot of these crimes are being committed by kids.
They say kids are more daring in the activity by stealing cars in broad daylight or with officers nearby.
Kids like 13-year-old Shamaya Milton say it’s become a common activity among her friends.
“I don’t know why my friends do stuff like that, because they go to school and get good grades but out of school they just go and they steal cars,” says Milton.
Milton is the treasurer for Davenport’s NAACP youth chapter.
She says the job is part of what keeps her away from trouble.
“I try to distance myself from them a little bit, because I just don’t want to follow in their footsteps or do something stupid, because I don’t want to end up in jail,” says Milton.
Pamela Tteague is the group’s youth adviser, helping kids achieve goals like setting up fundraisers, hangouts or volunteer trips.
It’s all an effort to give kids who might otherwise travel down the wrong path a sense of empowerment.
“There’s a lot of times where kids are used to being seen and not heard and sometimes they want to be heard,” Teague says.
Teague also plays a more informal role.
She and her husband have an open-door policy, where kids can come hang out any time.
“I always call my house the Kool-Aid house because they just come and go. It’s a different flavor but they just come and go.”
Teague says it’s part of forming a connection with kids to make sure they have someone they can come to before making a wrong turn.
“Some of them we can catch. Some of them we can say okay, some of them might just need a hug that they just don’t get,” says Teague.
Making crime-fighting a community effort, one hangout at a time.