While many people lock their front doors, they may want to start locking their car doors too. Guns being stolen out of unlocked vehicles has become an issue of high concern among law enforcement agencies in Leon Country.
Tallahassee officials reported 53 guns being stolen out of vehicles in Leon County last month.
There has been a direct correlation between the increase in gun violence and guns being stolen out of cars, according to local law enforcement. A common known place for gun owners to store their guns is in their car — which they don’t always remember to lock. Gun owners have been warned about leaving their cars unlocked with a valuable like a gun inside.
“Florida generally allows a person 18 years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm within the interior of a private vehicle,” according to Gifford’s Law Center.
Many officials in Tallahassee and across the country believe that leaving a gun in an unlocked car generally leads to car theft, which then leads to gun violence.
Gun theft out of unlocked vehicles have caused guns to get into the wrong hands, including teens. Fifteen deaths have occurred this year in Leon County due to gun violence and three cases involved alleged teen suspects.
Last month, three teens connected to 16 burglary cases were arrested on five counts of auto theft, 19 auto burglaries, two grand theft charges of a firearm and more in Tallahassee. But Tallahassee hasn’t been the only city coping with multiple car burglaries.
Alex Smith, a first year broadcast journalism student at Florida A&M, saw the harm of leaving guns in unlocked vehicles in nearby Crawfordville a few years ago.
“It’s a small town. You just don’t think something like that is gonna happen to you,” Smith said.
Her hometown of Crawfordville dealt with a string of car burglaries with valuables and firearms stolen out of unlocked cars. Smith said that residents were very familiar with one another and couldn’t believe someone would steal from them.
“Luckily, nothing was stolen from my family’s property because we kept our front doors and car locked, but it was definitely shocking,” Smith said.
According to Every Town for Gun Safety, over 100,000 guns are stolen each year from private gun owners, gun dealers and shipping companies.
Research suggests that nearly one-quarter of stolen guns are taken from cars and other vehicles, according to Every Town.
The best practice for gun owners is to store it some place safe and locked. Gun owners should always keep their guns out of reach from minors and never store it in an unlocked vehicle.