BLUE GRASS, Iowa (KWQC) – At around 9:30 p.m. on Monday, a Blue Grass resident arrived at her house, exited her vehicle and went inside for the night.
She did so unaware she had been followed home by an unknown number of suspects who police say had turned off their headlights while trailing her, apparently to avoid detection.
“They waited several hours probably until they saw all the lights inside had been turned off,” said Blue Grass Police Chief Garrett Jahns.
Then, Jahns said, sometime after midnight when all occupants were believed to be sleeping, the suspects entered the home to steal the keys to the 2019 Honda Pilot the woman had driven home.
Neither she nor the other occupants of the house knew what had happened until police began investigating when the Pilot was discovered stolen the next day.
“Car thieves are getting more brazen,” Jahns told KWQC.
“This is shocking, and I’m just as shocked as anyone else.”
Jahns says the occupants of the home in this small community of 1,700 were shaken by what happened, although no one was injured.
Investigators later managed to spot the Pilot being driven and followed it through Davenport, Iowa and across the Mississippi River into Rock Island, Illinois.
After a chase, the suspects got away, abandoning the stolen SUV in an alley.
Police are now following leads in a case which is similar to another recent car theft in Blue Grass in which the thieves turned off their headlights while tracking a target vehicle at night.
In that case, the suspects made their move soon after the driver left the target vehicle unattended.
However, Jahns said the Monday night incident is the first in Blue Grass in which suspects entered a home.
He believes stolen cars in these and other cases are being used to complete illegal drug or gun sales so police will not learn the suspects’ addresses in the event their tags are run upon investigation or arrest.
“It may be that being charged with car theft would be less severe than the charges that could come if police are able to search the thief’s home,” Jahns said.
Police are not releasing some details of the case because the suspects are still at-large, but for now they want to get the word out that citizens should always lock the doors to their homes and vehicles.
“This is a crime of opportunity,” Jahns said.
“Take away the opportunity, and you take away the crime.”