Local law enforcement agencies are no strangers to gun thefts from vehicles. One city in the state ranks in the top 10 of the state for guns stolen. Now, agencies warn gun owners to secure their firearms for their own safety and others.
Florida sheriff’s departments across the state are pushing a campaign on social media urging people to make sure their guns are not stolen out of cars.
“They hit in the middle of the night while you’re sleeping,” said Master Cpl. Phil Mullen with Cape Coral Police Department.
Police say thieves frequently target unlocked cars. Once inside, they check places like the center console or the glove box. And if you’re gun is in those places, police say it could have dangerous consequences.
“Whether it be serving a search warrant on a home or conducting a traffic stop and finding a gun on the stop,” Mullen said. “So they do pop up in other crimes.”
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Fort Myers ranks in the top 10 cities in the state where police recover stolen guns. This data is from 2017 gathered by ATF.
Even with campaigns like “Lock It Or Lose It,” gun owners are still leaving guns in the cars.
Joe Cassia said he never used to lock his doors.
“I guess the impression we had is that is was somewhere else,” Cassia said.
Cassia said he never forgets and hopes law enforcement holds people accountable for leaving guns in unlocked cars.
“You’ve given someone ready access,” Cassia said. “You have to be. If you can’t protect the firearm, you shouldn’t have it.”
But in Florida right now, police say even if someone’s gun is stolen from their care and used in a crime, the gun owner is not held responsible.
ATF recommends gun owners write down the serial number of their guns. And if someone steals them, it’s critical they call police immediately.