Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Stolen Guns - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Stolen Guns

By Ursula Madden - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis police respond to more home and car break-ins than any other crime in the city, and the items most often stolen are guns.

Whether you buy them for your private collection, or for your protection, keeping weapons out of the wrong hands seems to be a challenge for gun owners and for Memphis police.

"Forty-six percent of all stolen guns are from residential burglaries," Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said in a recent interview. "Another group of about twenty-five to thirty percent are stolen out of vehicles."

That sounds high, but the numbers don't lie.  According to police, more than 1,300 guns have been reported so far this year.  635 were taken from homes, and another 321 were stolen for vehicles.

Gun owner Adam Wilson usually takes his gun with him, but when he can't carry, he keeps his gun locked up in a safe that stays in his car.

"If you're in a position where you have to take it off, you're better off having somewhere you can secure it," Wilson said. "You put it in your glove box, you put it in you console, or you put it under your seat...that's how good things get stolen."

Glen Peifer, owner of Peifer Safe and Lock, says getting a safe is the right idea, but having the safe is not enough.

"The main thing, if you get a safe or a personal unit of this nature, make sure that it's anchored down, because it takes no time at all for them to take it off property, and then they can break into it a host of different ways," he said.

And once a thief gets your legally purchased gun, Adam Wilson believes he knows what happens next.

"Most stolen guns are probably sold, more than they are used for crimes, but the people who will buy guns like that without any kind of check on the serial number are probably moving them around to people who don't need to have them anyway," he said.

Federal statistics back this up. According to a survey of state prisons, nine percent of inmates who had a gun at the time of the crime, got the gun through theft.  Another 28 percent got the gun through an illegal market or fence.

Godwin said Memphis police are successful at recovering many stolen guns, regaining more than 2,200 this year.  Safes will run anywhere from $120 all the way up to $10,000 for a home safe.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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