COLUMBUS, Ohio — It's a crime not to report a stolen gun to police, and more people in Columbus are having to file those reports after leaving their loaded guns in their unlocked cars.
10TV searched Columbus police reports dating back to April 1. We found 25 reports of stolen guns and when car owners knew how the crooks got inside most of them reported they left their cars unlocked.
"We are absolutely alarmed by the number of guns that are taken from cars that are parked and unoccupied," said Sergeant James Fuqua of the Columbus Division of Police.
"If you leave your gun in a car whether it's locked or not and your car is broken into, you have contributed to the possibility of a criminal going out to commit a heinous act against someone else in the City of Columbus," Fuqua said.
Eric Delbert is a licensed Columbus firearms dealer and owner of L.E.P.D. firearms in Columbus.
Delbert said every gun owner should own a lock box for their weapon.
"We are talking about a burden on society that you have added to, by allowing your firearms out there in possession of a felon. I guarantee the guys stealing it are not ones who can go to a gun store and buy one," Delbert said.
Buckeye Firearms, a pro-gun lobby said, "Criminals don't try to break into every car. They profile vehicles just like they profile potential victims on the street. They're looking for an obvious and easy target. NRA decals on the window or gun-related bumper stickers are a clue that guns may be in the vehicle. Firearm accessories or hunting gear visible through the windows are also a tipoff. Where you park also matters. Don't park on the street if you can, park in a garage or a secure lot. If you must park outside, park in a well-lit area. If you're parking overnight, take all your valuables with you," said Dean Rieck, Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms.
Firearms dealers and police believe stolen firearms will be on the rise after Gov. Mike DeWine signed the state's new permitless carry law which starts next month.
The new law, often referred to as the “permitless carry” or “Constitutional carry” bill by supporters, makes a concealed weapons permit optional for anyone legally allowed to carry a gun.
"We are absolutely concerned that we won't have a license to carry a firearm will absolutely increase the number of guns that people will carry on their person so most certainly the number of guns that will be stolen will most certainly increase," Sgt. Fuqua said.
"I would anticipate it. It's new people carrying a firearm," Delbert said.
You can check to see if the gun you purchased was stolen by using the Ohio Attorney Generals Stolen Gun Database.