At least 422 guns have been stolen during vehicle break-ins throughout the city since 2015, Wichita police said Thursday.
“Definitely alarming. We don’t want them in the wrong hands,” Sgt. Nikki Woodrow said after releasing the number of annual reports for gun thefts during auto larcenies for the past two years.
The numbers came a day after Chief Gordon Ramsay tweeted that he had read another vehicle break-in report where a gun was stolen. He called such crimes preventable.
So far this year, 78 guns have been reported stolen during auto larcenies, Woodrow said. Last year, there were 193.
In 2015, 151 firearms were taken by thieves who broke into cars, the chief said in a Facebook post.
The stolen weapons “can cause a very dangerous situation to society,” Woodrow said, adding that they were left in vehicles in parking lots, on streets, in driveways and parked in other areas of the city.
The majority were handguns, she said. But long guns such as rifles were also taken.
“Some do get recovered, but some will never be seen again,” she said. Some of the stolen guns were stashed in glove boxes and center consoles when they were taken. But others, Woodrow said, may have been in plain sight.
The Wichita Police Department is urging the public to avoid leaving guns unattended in their cars to help stop this type of theft.
The best practice, Woodrow said, is to take your gun with you when you get out of your vehicle or to leave it at home if you’re heading to a location or business that won’t allow it on the property.
If you have to leave your gun in your vehicle, she suggested securing it in a locked location, like a glove box or trunk, or using a firearms lock.
“You should have extra precautions as a safety measure,” Woodrow said.