KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- According to the Knoxville Police Department, more than half of guns reported stolen in Knoxville so far this year were taken from cars.

In fact, KPD said that at this rate we’re on track to surpass last year’s total number of guns stolen from vehicles. That number was 160. However, there are simple ways you can avoid becoming a victim and help keep your community safe.

Knoxville Police said 76 of the 134 guns reported stolen this year were taken from cars and trucks, including five in the last week.

Scott Erland with the Knoxville Police Department said, “these are crimes of opportunity.”

He is encouraging people to take the proper precautions to prevent firearm thefts.

Erland said, “if you look at the numbers almost 50% of the car burglaries that we’ve had this year where guns had been stolen, the car had been left unlocked.”

He said gun thefts from cars usually happen close to home.

“A lot of people think that these guns that are getting stolen from cars that these are happening where cars are parked at businesses,” Erland explained. “But that’s just not the case, the case is that largely, the most common place where guns are stolen are when cars are parked at residences whether that be at a driveway at a home or apartment complex.”

However, there are steps you can take to prevent any item from being stolen from your car, especially firearms.

“Always lock your car, roll up your windows, secure your car,” Erland stated.

He adds, “either remove or safely secure any valuables especially firearms from the vehicle. Firearms should be kept in a lockbox..”

KPD states that stolen guns are frequently used in serious crimes, including robberies, carjackings, and shootings, both here in Knoxville and in cities across the region and country.  

If you find yourself a victim of firearm theft, you should immediately report your stolen property to the police.

Erland said, “make sure you know the serial numbers for your guns. We often get guns that are reported stolen to us and the owners have no clue what the serial number is and that’s going to make it really difficult for us because if we do happen to recover your gun, we might not be able to get it back to you.”

An organization called Everytown for Gun Safety just came out with a report this year explaining where the most gun thefts happen from vehicles within the United States. Memphis is number one on the list and Chattanooga is number two.