KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knoxville police are sharing a disturbing trend from vehicle break-ins: More guns are getting stolen from unlocked vehicles.
As holiday shopping is in full swing, Sergeant Sean Hejna with KPD Criminal Investigations reminds drivers to lock their doors, especially if they’re traveling with a firearm.
In 2019, there have been 74 firearms stolen from vehicles in the city.
Investigators believe 63 of them were taken from unlocked cars.
In 2018, 78 firearms were stolen. Again, a majority of those, 78, are believed to be from unlocked cars and trucks.
His number one piece of advice, to all drivers, is to lock your doors.
“There’s a greater chance of them (thefts from vehicles) to happen this time of year because people are out, they’re busy, they’re going store to store. They’re not paying attention to what’s going on oftentimes, they’re not going to realize maybe that even something is stolen from their car until they get home,” he said.
But, if you’re driving with a gun, he recommends you be extra cautious and make sure your gun is hidden and locked, either in your glove box or console. He even suggests taking the extra step of storing ammunition separately from the weapon.
Police are also seeing an uptick in theft from unlocked cars in gated communities and apartment complexes.
“A lot of these crimes are crimes of opportunity. People are walking by, they’re grabbing door handles, the door handles open, they may get in there and help themselves to whatever is in the vehicle,” he said.
While an errand may seem quick, or you’re frozen over windshield might seem worth the risk, KPD is also seeing more cars stolen as a result of owners leaving them running and unattended or unlocked with the keys inside.
Hejna also took a moment to remind the public about the city ordinance prohibiting leaving a running car unattended, so he recommends turning your car off and locking it when you’re going inside a store.
To recap, here are six ways to stay safe throughout the holidays:
- Lock your doors
- Be aware of your surroundings when you enter/exit a shopping area
- Make sure you put valuable items out of sight as best you can
- Store gun in locked glove box or console
- Bring gun inside your home rather than leave it out overnight
- Don’t have false security in gated community
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