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Danville Police on Friday said the theft of firearms from unlocked vehicles continues to be a serious crime problem. They urge gun owners to secure their weapon at all times.
Leaving it in a vehicle, especially if it is unlocked, is not a safe or secure place, Police Chief Philip Broadfoot said at a news conference.
“While the majority of firearms are reported stolen during residential burglaries, a significant number are stolen from vehicles by criminals who walk through neighborhoods pulling door handles to find unlocked vehicles,” Broadfoot said. “Once an unlocked vehicle is found, they search the interior, including the console, glove box and under the seats, for a firearm or anything of value.”
He presented statistics showing a surge in the number of firearms stolen from vehicles. In 2015, 29 of the 92 firearms reported stolen were stolen from vehicles. Last year, 49 of the 115 firearms reported stolen were stolen from vehicles.
To date this year, 17 of the 24 firearms reported stolen have been stolen from vehicles.
Broadfoot also presented maps that pinpointed the shifting patterns of gun theft from motor vehicles. In 2015, the majority of firearms stolen from vehicles came from the heavily populated areas in the core center of the city north and south of the river. In 2016, the thefts began to spread as the thieves moved into businesses and parking lots.
So far in 2017, Broadfoot said there is a clear movement to the Westover Drive area.
“When you combine all three pin maps, you can see that very few areas of the city are untouched by this crime problem,” he said. “We have a serious problem that we believe can be stopped using a combined effort of enforcement and education.”
Broadfoot outlined law enforcement activity from Nov. 1 through March 23, during which police served 28 gang-related search warrants and seized 31 firearms during execution of these search warrants. Eight of the firearms were stolen. Seven of the eight firearms stolen were from Danville.
“Citizens can help us by not leaving their firearms in unlocked vehicles,” he said. “If you have to leave it in the vehicle, place it in a locked box in the trunk.”