CPD: Hundreds of guns stolen from vehicles in 2018
Most things stolen from your car can simply be replaced. It is an inconvenience, for sure, but life goes on. However, if your firearm is the item that is stolen, you have no control over how it is used next and police say there are steps you can take to keep this crime from happening, altogether.
“It’s really not secure when you do leave your car unlocked,” said Officer Brad Brown from the Chattanooga Police Department’s Property Crimes Division. “It’s amazing the number that I have found were people actually leave a gun in their car and their car is unlocked. Because, the ones that are just going around shaking door handles, they’ll open it up and they found a gun. You know, one of the particular cases now that we just solved actually had two guns in one car that was left unlocked?”
Theft of firearms can lead to dire consequences. More than half the firearms reported stolen so far this year have come from vehicles and they are ending up on the city's streets.
"When we get property, we can usually track it down from them maybe pawning the stuff or see it for sale somewhere like on Facebook or Craigslist or something," Off. Brown continued. "We'll check and see if we see it. But, guns, you don't ever see. So, what happens is, they'll exchange hands on the street. They'll end up in the bad guys' hands."
If you are a gun owner, there are some things that can make you more enticing to thieves. Decals promoting membership in the National Rifle Association or loyalty to a gunmaker brand could lead criminals right to your vehicle.
"They might have a sticker on the back of the car that says 'Smith & Wesson,' or, you know, something involving a gun, and thieves target that," Brown explained. "They see the sticker talking about Smith & Wesson or Glock owner, and they'll actually kind of follow that car around and wait 'til they go in a busy shopping center like the mall and actually break in the car because there's a good chance there will be a gun in the car."
What can you do? First: lock your doors.
"At the minimum, lock your doors," Off. Brown said. "Probably 85% of the ones I'm working on are guns taken from unlocked vehicles.”
Also, if you must leave your firearm in your car, secure it. There are gun safes available that attach to the interior of your vehicle. They are relatively inexpensive and not complicated to operate.
"I know when they go to the shopping centers and stuff, you'll see the decal on the door where you're not allowed to take your gun in. So, a lot of people are deterred from taking their gun in there and they're leaving it in their car and they don't really have a secure device. But, you can purchase secure devices to keep your guns," Off. Brown said. "My suggestion is not to advertise you have a gun or some kind of a sticker that says you do and if you do, you know, at least secure your gun. Like, maybe buy an extra lock or something to have installed in your vehicle actually like the police have."
Of course, you are urged to follow all gun laws and report any firearms that may come up stolen or missing so they can be tracked and so, if they're used in a crime, detectives do not waste time trying to track you down.