Preventing gun thefts after SBPD releases new data

NOW: Preventing gun thefts after SBPD releases new data

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- New data from the City of South Bend show alarming numbers of gun thefts in the city. So far in 2023, in just over one month, 53 guns were stolen.

If that trend continues, the city is on track for a record-breaking year in gun thefts. But South Bend Police Sergeant Daniel Demler said most of those thefts are preventable.

"It's something we see on a regular basis," he said. "People are, you know, I hate to say it, but some are just careless with the storage of their firearms."

New numbers show 245 guns stolen in 2019, 339 in 2020, 380 in 2021, and 295 in 2022.

"I would say it was more of a crime of opportunity than planning ahead to do something nefarious after you steal the gun," Demler said.

The best way to prevent firearm theft, he said, is smart storage. He said there are inexpensive ways to store a gun in one's home, like lockboxes or gun safes.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a research and advocacy organization against gun violence, most guns are stolen from cars.

"It's not uncommon to see reports come through where they've left it in the center console or the glove box and then they don't lock their car," Demler said. "And the car is obviously outside. That just makes it easy pickings."

Demler said gun thefts from vehicles happen more often than most people would think.

"I've been doing this job 30 years, I've been a supervisor the last 12 or so, so I'm approving reports as they come in. I still, to this day, shake my head, how often that happens," he said.

The good news is each year there were more guns recovered by the police than were reported stolen. There were 382 recovered in 2019, 440 in 2020, 603 in 2021, and 538 in 2022. So far this year, 18 were recovered.

Demler reminded families that if they're storing guns in a home with children, keep them up high, and educate children about the dangers of firearms.

He said they are trained to treat every gun like it's loaded, and we should all do the same, to prevent accidents.

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