Police ask gun owners to protect their firearms

Police ask gun owners to protect their firearms

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Officials with the Lubbock Police Department are asking residents to protect their firearms due to a sharp increase in the number of guns have been stolen out of vehicles.

Officials want to remind gun owners that owning a firearm is a great responsibility that includes securing the weapon at all times. Leaving it in a vehicle, especially if it is unlocked, is not a safe or secure place.

If the gun is left in the vehicle for some reason, a few safety tips include locking the gun in the trunk or securing the gun in a gun safe installed in the vehicle. However, a vehicle is never 100% secure. While a gun owner may never intend to use their firearm to harm another person when these weapons are stolen by criminals they can be used to commit other crimes or even be used against our officers who come in contact with criminals on a daily basis. In fact, during last month's officer-involved shooting, the suspect was armed with a stolen handgun. That gun had been reported stolen out of an unlocked pickup truck back in September.

In 2015, there were 3,228 vehicle burglaries. Of those, 187 vehicles had guns inside the vehicles. Out of those 187, 217 guns were stolen.

In 2016, there were 3,268 vehicle burglaries. Of those, 305 vehicles had guns inside the vehicles. Out of those, 384 guns were stolen.

Of the 601 firearms stolen in 2015-16, only 82 were recovered by police.

"I mean if you're in a situation where you've gotta leave a firearm in your vehicle, you know, obviously do whatever you can to lock it up,"says Charles Blackwell, owner of Sharp Shooters Knife & Gun.

Blackwell says owning a gun is a right to be taken seriously.

"You're ultimately responsible for that, you know, if it falls in the wrong hands, you've got some liability there, so, if you're not comfortable with how you can secure it, you need to look into some sort of improvement," says Blackwell.

A sentiment echoed by the Lubbock Police Department following a dramatic increase in firearm thefts.

According to L-P-D, last year alone, 384 guns were stolen out of 305 vehicles....with almost 100 of those vehicles left unlocked.

"Obviously that's more firearms that's in criminals hands, that you know, are doing who knows what with em," says Blackwell.

However, Blackwell says there is an easy solution.

"There's multiple lock boxes and things out there that you can buy on the market. A lot of them will come with security cables, you know, where you can't cut 'em easily. That way they can't get away with it quickly, "says Blackwell.

He also says even the presence of a safe in a vehicle cam make an impact.

"We've had scenarios where we've had customers tell us where their safe wasn't even locked and they didn't even touch it. So, I mean, just having the safe, will do a lot to deter people from coming after your stuff."

But, he says a crucial step is remembering to anchor the lock box inside the vehicle.

"I've had several customers that have either bolted it to their floorboard of their vehicle, in their glove box, or something, somehow like that. it's just a real simple way to lock your gun up, "says Blackwell.

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