On March 31, 2017 The Flagstaff Police Department distributed a media release about gun violence and safe gun handling. Today we are focusing on the topic of safe gun storage. If firearms are not securely stored, they are at risk of being stolen. In 2016, the Flagstaff Police Department observed an increase in the number of guns reported stolen. These incidents primarily consisted of residential burglaries and burglaries from vehicles. In each of the past two years, all of these vehicular burglaries but one have involved an unlocked vehicle.
In 2015, 8 guns were stolen in residential burglaries. This number increased to 31 guns in 2016. We received one report of a gun stolen from a locked vehicle, and 12 stolen from unlocked vehicles in 2015. Similarly, in 2016 one gun was stolen from a locked vehicle, and 13 were stolen from unlocked vehicles. Other ways in which guns were stolen were through commercial burglaries (2015: 15 guns; 2016: one gun), auto theft of vehicles containing a firearm (2015: 2 guns; 2016: 5 guns), theft (2015: 7 guns; 2016: 11 guns), and shoplifting (2015: one gun; 2016: zero guns).
In total, 46 guns were reported stolen in 2015, and 62 guns were reported stolen in 2016.
We are asking that members of the public who own firearms do their part to minimize the risk that their guns will be stolen and potentially used for criminal purposes. Safe storage is a simple, effective way of reducing the likelihood that a gun will be stolen. It also helps prevent children from accessing firearms, which is another important safety concern.
Project ChildSafe offers the following guidelines about gun storage safety. These are good practices for all gun-owners, regardless of whether there are children in their household.
* Unloaded firearms should be stored in a locked cabinet, safe, gun vault or storage case. The storage location should be inaccessible to children.
* Gun locking devices render firearms inoperable and can be used in addition to locked storage. If firearms are disassembled, parts should be securely stored in separate locations.
* Ammunition should be stored in a locked location separate from firearms.
* Thoroughly double check firearms to confirm that they are unloaded when you remove them from storage. Accidents could occur if a family member borrows a gun and returns it to storage while still loaded.
Regarding gun burglaries from vehicles, the simplest way to protect yourself from becoming a victim is to apply the same guidelines intended to deter vehicular burglary of any sort: roll up all windows, remove any valuables, and lock all doors.
The Flagstaff Police Department is committed to keeping our city safe. In total, our department recovered 30 guns in 2015 and 2016. We take the issue of gun burglary seriously and ask that you do the same. We hope that with the public’s help, we will see a decrease in the number of guns stolen in 2017.