A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Police remind residents to always lock vehicles; rate of firearms stolen from vehicles is increasing

The Lexington Police Department has a message for residents, especially gun owners: Never leave valuables in your car or truck, and always make sure that vehicle is locked.

So far this year, 132 guns have been reported stolen from vehicles in Lexington. In the vast majority of those cases, the vehicle was left unlocked.

Lawrence Weathers

“We are on pace to have the highest number of guns stolen from vehicles in five years,” Chief Lawrence Weathers said. “The easiest thing residents can do to help public safety in our community is to simply not leave valuables in their car – firearms, money, credit cards, electronics, and medication – and to always make sure that vehicle is secured.

“Doing that prevents you from becoming a victim, and it prevents your gun from possibly being used in another crime.”

Since 2015, 896 firearms have been reported stolen from vehicles in Lexington. Relatively few stolen guns are ever recovered. When they are, it is often in connection to another criminal investigation such as an assault or narcotics trafficking.

Recent examples of guns being stolen from cars or trucks include:

• January 2019: During the course of a shooting investigation, officers recovered a stolen Glock 45 pistol. It had been reported stolen from a vehicle in Lexington in April 2017.

• January 2019: Three firearms – a Walther P99 handgun and two shotguns – were reported stolen from a truck that had been left unlocked. The guns have not been recovered.

• January 2019: While investigating a domestic violence incident, officers recovered a loaded Glock 40 that had been reported stolen from a vehicle in Mt. Sterling in September 2018.

• February 2019: A 17-year-old suspect was found in possession of a stolen Glock 19 with a weapon-mounted light. The gun had been reported stolen from a vehicle the month prior. The teenager was charged and field-released to his mother.

• March 2019: Two juveniles, 17 and 15 years old, were shot during an altercation on Centre Parkway. Officers made an arrest in the case and were able to locate a firearm the suspect is believed to have discarded as he ran from the scene. The Springfield XD had been reported stolen from a vehicle in Georgetown in May 2017.

• March 2019: A husband and wife reported that items had been stolen from both of their vehicles. Two firearms (one in each vehicle) and a wallet were taken. The guns have not been recovered.

• April 2019: During a narcotics investigation, officers recovered a Sig Sauer P320 from a convicted felon. The gun that had been reported stolen from a vehicle in Lexington in October 2018.

Most “car break-ins” actually involve vehicles that were accidentally left unlocked. Thieves will routinely check door handles looking for easy targets. If they see a backpack or purse in the vehicle, thieves may gain entry by breaking a window.

In May, a resident reported that someone was checking door handles and looking in vehicles at a downtown parking lot. Officers apprehended 46-year-old Charles M. Smith and charged him with Criminal Mischief, Receiving Stolen Property, and Possession of Burglary Tools. He is believed to be responsible for hundreds of thefts from vehicles in the Lexington area.

Lexington Police and law enforcement agencies across the country have made educating the public about securing vehicles and all valuables a priority. Residents are encouraged to take part in the 9 p.m. Routine, a crime prevention habit of checking your vehicle before turning in for the night. Weathers said the 9 p.m. Routine is making a difference.

“We are seeing an overall decrease in reported thefts from vehicles. Many homeowners have surveillance video and are sharing information with neighbors,” Weathers said. “But we can do better. We all need to do our part in preventing these crimes of opportunity. Never leave valuables in your car, and always make sure the doors are locked.”

From Lexington Police Department

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