ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford Police recently doubled the size of the gang unit. It now has six detectives instead of three. And according to Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson that number may increase even more later this year.
That's because gang violence is on the rise.
In some areas of the city, shots fired are up nearly 80 percent since April.
So police are getting creative. They are targeting suspected gang members in new ways - including restricting access to rental cars and condemning their homes.
Police say 244 rental cars have been mentioned in gang-related police reports since January, 2010. All of them came from Enterprise, Alamo, and National car rental companies.
Police say EAN Holdings, the parent company for all three businesses, hasn't been alerting police when cars come back riddled with bullet holes.
EAN Holdings says they work with local authorities any time a car is involved in an investigation, but starting next week they will impose stricter guidelines for renters at the urging of police.
This includes making renters verify employment, verify home addresses, and have car insurance to cover a rented car.
Police are going after homes, too. On May 1st, Rockford police used the Illinois Gang Nuisance Abatement Act for the first time. It allows cities to condemn properties that are suspected in gang activity and aren't up to city code.
Residents living at the house at 180 15th Ave. can't go back until May 30th. Police say it's their way of cracking down on crime in the neighborhood.