DOLTON, Ill. — On the heels of what officials say has been an uptick in gun violence and vehicle thefts across much of the south suburbs and Chicagoland area, police agencies are working on getting in front of the problem as much as they can. 

In Dolton, Chief Robert Collins Jr. says the department has extra patrols and officers focusing on such crimes. But they also want to find more solutions by working with the community. 

“We have this surge in violence, but how we respond to it makes a difference,” Collins said. “When it comes to these vehicle thefts, we can’t be everywhere. We can patrol, but we can’t be everywhere, so we want to help our citizens.” 

Community activist and Village of Dolton trustee Andrew Holmes teamed up with the mayor and police to give away gun locks, as well as steering wheel locks. Officials remind that vehicle thefts aren’t victimless crimes.

Deborah Bulliner says her daughter recently borrowed her Kia and when she returned to it in Wicker Park, the window was allegedly smashed. The car turned on with no key, Bulliner said, and a person jumped out and ran away. 

“It frightened me because what if he would’ve pulled a gun on them? What if he had hurt her over a car?” she said. “It’s not worth it.”

Bulliner says the parts aren’t available to fix her window, so she appreciates the extra protection and is grateful for the free anti-theft devices. 

In a similar story, Pearl Green’s granddaughter reportedly had her car recently vandalized in a theft attempt, leaving her with no transportation to work or school. 

“We can’t go through all of this,” Green said. “They’re tearing up people’s cars and stuff, stealing people’s cars.” 

Read more: Latest Chicago news headlines

Officials say too many lives are also being stolen by someone using a gun. They hope to prevent another tragedy by handing out gun locks to community members. 

“Gun locks are probably the quickest and easiest way to make a firearm safe, other than putting it in a vault or a safe,” Collins said.  

Police say anyone with a gun, especially where children are, needs to take steps to restrict access to it. Holmes cited an incident in 2022 where a 3-year-old boy allegedly killed his mother after getting a hold of a gun in Dolton as yet another reason why this is a high priority. 

“We all came together with the mayor so we can make sure that it’s safe out here,” Holmes said.