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Des Moines Refugee Support enlisting community's help after thief steals keys

Getting a new key and ignition system will cost approximately $1,000, according to the organization.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Refugee Support is down a few vehicles after the organization's car keys were stolen on Thursday evening, according to a Facebook post.

One of the organization's big programs, Success Through Soccer, gives refugee kids in Des Moines a chance to get involved and active in their new community. 

As of now, there are approximately 46 kids registered to play soccer through the program, according to Erin Bell, a board member and volunteer for Des Moines Refugee Support. 

"We provide all the transportation, all the equipment..." Bell said. "We provide rides to practices, games... it's a huge puzzle."

Solving the puzzle is a little easier with volunteers who help drive kids to practices and games. Generally, these volunteers use DART vans or other vehicles that belong to the organization.  

But when one volunteer showed up to pick up the keys for her shift on May 18, something was wrong. 

"Our volunteer for soccer practice showed up to the parking lot, like she does every Thursday night for us," Bell said. "So she was just doing her normal routine, goes to the plastic box that we keep [the keys] in, opens it up. And there's no lock boxes in it." 

The lockboxes contained the keys to all of Des Moines Refugee Support's vehicles. One van, a burgundy 2004 Dodge Caravan, is now entirely inaccessible. The rest of the cars have been moved to a new location to prevent theft. 

To keep the thief from coming back to finish the job, the organization used shoe polish to paint messages such as "If you see my driving around - call the cops - I AM STOLEN" on the Caravan's windows.

"Hoping that whoever has our keys feels like it would maybe not be worth it to come back and try to get it all cleaned up so they can drive away with her," said Alison Hoeman, Executive Director of Des Moines Refugee Support.

Fortunately, there is some good news. The organization has been able to raise over $1,000 from community members to help cover the cost of getting a new key and ignition system for the Caravan.

"With all of the kind of crazy bad things happening everywhere, it just it makes me proud to be in Des Moines. It makes me proud of the people that really do want to help," Hoeman said.

For more information, visit Des Moines Refugee Support on Facebook. They are raising money on their Facebook page as well.

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