GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Over a four-week period, Greensboro police have seen a 92 percent spike in firearms being stolen from vehicles.
Police statistics show that from May 17 to June 20 there have been at least 26 guns taken out of vehicles that were left unlocked. That’s compared to the 14 firearms stolen from unlocked vehicles during that same time frame in 2018.
“We are seeing at least four vehicle break-ins a day,” said Greg Kiser, with Greensboro Police. “That’s in the [western] part of the city.”
They have also seen at least one vehicle stolen per day in the same square miles.
Authorities say more people leave their cars unlocked and their valuables in plain view.
“Folks that may be out not even be trying to commit and crime. But look into your car and see some change in the center console and say, ‘Hey I can use that.’” Kiser said. “These are crimes of opportunity.”
On June 18, Greensboro authorities responded to four reported vehicle burglaries at three different locations on New Garden Road. All of these cases happened at apartment complexes, but no weapons were reported missing.
However, just one day before those incidents there was a handgun, a cache of bullets and a holster taken from an unlocked vehicle.
“That posses a huge threat to the community at large,” Kiser said. “Because a legally purchased firearm that is legally possessed by the owner ... that is left in the situation that can be stolen that firearm that was being used as intended.”
Those weapons that were once legally bought are “now in the hands of someone who has already committed one crime. It’s not that far of a move for them to go into an armed robbery.”
Kiser explained that those weapons have been linked to much more violent crimes such as assaults and armed robberies.
Authorities stress that people become more mindful of what they’re doing, or haven’t done.
During the day thieves are said to be looking for unlocked cars at the shopping centers, grocery stores or gas stations.
“Places where you may be in for 30 seconds and leave everything inside. Then you come out and see your car driving away,” Kiser said.
At night is when thieves look through neighborhoods and apartment complexes for unlocked targets.
“Apartments provide plenty of targets in a row ... neighborhoods provide plenty of places to hide,” he said.
Police stress to keep your eyes peeled for suspicious people and alert neighbors if you see something out of place. This is incredibly crucial in catching those responsible. Police say that if you’re car has been broken into, do not touch it and call 911 immediately.