May 22, 2023 - News

Thief steals van keys from Des Moines refugee nonprofit group

A van belonging to Des Moines Refugee Support. Its keys were stolen, so organizers left a message on it in case the suspect returns to take the car. Photo courtesy of Des Moines Refugee Services

Keys for vehicles used to help transport young refugees in Des Moines were stolen last week, founder Alison Hoeman tells Axios.

Why it matters: The keys were for Des Moines Refugee Support's minivan and two 15-passenger vans rented from DART.

  • Volunteers use the vans to help drive more than 70 refugee students during the school year to soccer practices and games.
  • The group is also launching transportation for pre-school students next year.

Driving the news: The keys were left in lockboxes hidden outside the church parking lot where the vans park.

Yes, but: When a volunteer arrived last Thursday to drive students, the lockboxes were missing.

  • Hoeman filed a report with Des Moines police, but fears the person who stole the keys will return to steal the cars.

What's happening: While there are spares for the DART vans, the only set of keys for the minivan was in the lockbox, Hoeman says.

  • The group has been saving money to buy another vehicle, but will now have to dip into those funds to get the van's ignition changed out.
  • "We're trying to help the kids and this certainly doesn't help us help the kids," Hoeman says.

How you can help: Donate to the group.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more