Gone in a Matter of Minutes

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It happens hundreds of times on a very cold morning: we start the car, then go back inside and wait for it to warm up, but little do we know that someone else is waiting to put our car into drive, but it’s not only car thieves breaking the law.

Sheri Swanborg recalls the events from Tuesday morning.

"He walked upstairs to get a spare set of keys. Within that time, it had to of been like two minutes, we looked outside and they were turning the corner with our car."

That's how quickly Sheri and Bill Swanborg's only car was stolen.

Tuesday morning Bill went out to try to start the car. It finally turned over and he went inside to get another set of keys so he could come back out and lock the running car, but by that time the car was gone. Two days went by and nothing; no leads.

Sheri says, "We were really disappointed, but if we did get it back we thought it would be damaged."

Someone must have been looking out for the Swanborg's and they say that someone was Rockford Police Officer Mark Jacobi. Officer Jacobi would check reports daily and during his down time he would drive throughout neighborhoods.

Bill Swanborg says, "I was impressed. After a day or so you give up hope, but the fact that then you realize that they are out there religiously looking for it, that's pretty impressive."

On Thursday Officer Jacobi called them with the good news. Not too far from their home a 14-year-old and another juvenile were caught doing doughnuts in the Swanborg's car. The front plate was smashed in, but other than that the only significant damage was all the drug paraphernalia inside.

Bill describes it as, "Cigarette ashes all over. There were baggies all over, marijuana all over and marijuana seeds all over."

Aside from changing their car and home locks, the Swanborg's also had to pay a $75 ticket. In Illinois it is illegal to leave your car running unattended unless you have automatic start.

Also take this into consideration: if a vehicle is taken because of the owner's negligence, many times the insurance companies won't cover it.

In 2004, 1,100 cars were stolen in Rockford. Statewide, the Auto Theft Task Force is reporting that 42, 691 car thefts took place in 2004. From that number, 32, 826 were recovered, leaving 9,976 active cases.