Wichita police offer tips to avoid auto crimes
Wichita police want people to stop leaving guns in cars.
So far this year, Wichita has had 1,600 reported car break-ins. Fifty-eight guns have been stolen in those break-ins, down from 74 at this time last year.
“But 58 is still a lot of guns that [are] out there now in the hands of criminals in the streets of Wichita,” Lt. Scott Brunow said.
Guns stolen from vehicles were twice turned against local law enforcement officers last year, and both incidents turned deadly.
Christian Webb, 24, entered an off-duty Wichita police officer’s house in July with a gun that had recently been reported stolen from a car at New Market Square. He and the officer got into a shootout that injured them both. Webb died from his injuries.
Two months later, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Kunze was shot and killed by Robert Greeson. The gun he used had recently been stolen from a vehicle, Brunow said.
Those were only two of 271 guns reported to Wichita police in 2018.
“These criminals that are out there breaking into cars, they’re not looking to steal that gun for lawful reasons. They’re going to use it for other criminal activities,” Brunow said.
Brunow has started a Twitter account (@AutoTheftWPD) to show car break-in “hot spots” and what kinds of automobile thefts, larceny cases and thefts are happening around the city, he said.
“I would like to see people really stop leaving guns in cars,” Brunow said. “I think if we get this information out to the community, just as far as the numbers that are there — I don’t think a lot of people realize or know how many cars are broken into, how many guns are stolen from those cars, and what we can do to prevent it from happening.”
The easy steps people can take to prevent those kinds of thefts are to lock the car and remove any property that might appeal to a thief, Brunow said.
“A lot of cars that we see gotten into are unlocked. People are walking by, they’re looking in the car — if they see something of interest, if they see a purse, a cell phone, a computer, spare change, they’re gonna check the door. If it’s unlocked, they’re in there. Once they’re in, they’re going to rummage around,” Brunow said.