Gun Thefts from Cars in Nashville

Where do the illegal guns flooding our communities and driving violent crimes come from? In Tennessee, many are stolen from vehicles – and an astonishing number of them are stolen from vehicles left unlocked.

In 2013, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law to allow gun owners with gun permits to store guns in their vehicles, even on property that prohibited them. The controversial law, known as “gun in trunks”  was opposed by many in the business community. A Republican caucus chair with an A rating from the NRA who listened to business owners and voted against the bill lost her seat when the NRA spent over $100,000 to run someone against her in her primary. In 2014, the law was expanded to allow any gun owner to store a firearm in their vehicle, regardless of whether or not they were a valid permit holder.

Since that time, gun thefts from vehicles have gone up across the state. In Memphis alone, gun thefts from vehicles have increased 256 percent since 2013In 2013, 358 were stolen from vehicles in Memphis. In 2018, 1,273 were stolen. Memphis broke a homicide record in 2016 and is on pace to break another one in 2019.

According to the TBI, gun thefts from cars went up 85 percent across the state between 2016 and 2017. Nashville saw a 70 percent increase in firearms stolen from vehicles between 2016 and 2018. The problem is confounding to law enforcement. Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings has been very critical of the “guns in trunks” law, noting the “unintended consequences” of legislation.

“Laws have unintended consequences. We cannot ignore that as a legislature passes laws that make guns more accessible to criminals that has a direct effect on our violent crime rate.” – MPD Director Michael Rallings

Metro Nashville Police Department East Nashville Commander David Imhoff created flyers plastered with the message: “STOP ARMING CRIMINALS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.” He had his officers hand them out at every traffic stop, and he mailed them to every household in high risk neighborhoods. He spoke at 25 community meetings a month and contacted local TV stations.

But the gun owners leaving firearms in their vehicles don’t appear to be getting the message. As of this week, 379 guns have been stolen from vehicles in Nashville. Below are press releases sent out by the Metro Nashville Police Department this year, noting both the number of firearms stolen and urging gun owners storing guns in their cars to lock them vehicle and keep the firearms secured and out of view.

The single most important responsibility a gun owner has is to keep their weapons out of the hands of unauthorized users, be it curious kids or thieves.

62% of Last Week’s Stolen Vehicles Taken with Keys

7/18/2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A review of stolen vehicle reports in Nashville from Sunday, July 7 through Saturday, July 13, shows that 62% of the automobiles taken (45 of 73) were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves.

During this reporting time period, a total of 20 guns were stolen during vehicle burglaries; eight of those vehicles were left unlocked. So far this year, 379 guns have been stolen from vehicles.

The police department’s continuing PARK SMART campaign strongly urges citizens to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables—including guns, and REMOVE THE KEYS.


25 Guns Stolen During Vehicle Burglaries Last Week; 64% of Autos Taken with Keys During Same Period

7/2/2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A review of stolen vehicle reports in Nashville from Sunday, June 23 through Saturday, June 29, shows that 64% of the automobiles taken (35 of 55) were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves. One of the vehicles stolen was left running without the driver present.

During this reporting time period, a total of 25 guns were stolen during vehicle burglaries; eight of those vehicles were left unlocked. So far this year, 332 guns have been stolen from vehicles.

The police department’s continuing PARK SMART campaign strongly urges citizens to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables—including guns, and REMOVE THE KEYS.


25 Guns Taken During Vehicle Burglaries Last Week & 69% of Vehicles Stolen Taken with Keys

6/26/2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A review of stolen vehicle reports in Nashville from Sunday, June 16 through Saturday, June 22, shows that 69% of the automobiles taken (37 of 54) were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves. SIX of the vehicles stolen were left running without the driver present!

During this reporting time period, a total of 25 guns were stolen during vehicle burglaries; 15 of those vehicles were left unlocked. So far this year, 307 guns have been stolen from vehicles.

The police department’s continuing PARK SMART campaign strongly urges citizens to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables—including guns, and REMOVE THE KEYS.


Last Week 12 Guns Taken During Vehicle Burglaries and 69% of Vehicles Stolen Taken with Keys

5/30/2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A review of stolen vehicle reports in Nashville from Sunday, May 19 through Saturday, May 25, shows that 69% of the automobiles taken (41 of 59) were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves. Seven of the 59 vehicles stolen were left running without the driver present.

During this reporting time period, a total of 12 guns were stolen during vehicle burglaries; six of those vehicles were left unlocked. So far this year, 252 guns have been stolen from vehicles.

The police department’s continuing PARK SMART campaign strongly urges citizens to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables—including guns, and REMOVE THE KEYS.


51% of Last Week’s Stolen Vehicles Taken with Keys; Nine Guns Stolen During Vehicle Burglaries

5/23/2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A review of stolen vehicle reports in Nashville from Sunday, May 12 through Saturday, May 18, shows that 51% of the automobiles taken (25 of 49) were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves. Six of the 49 vehicles stolen were left running without the driver present.

During this reporting time period, a total of 9 guns were stolen during vehicle burglaries; 7 of those vehicles were left unlocked. So far this year, 240 guns have been stolen from vehicles.

The police department’s continuing PARK SMART campaign strongly urges citizens to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables—including guns, and REMOVE THE KEYS.


Park Smart: Nine Guns Taken During Vehicle Burglaries Last Week

5/8/2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A review of stolen vehicle reports in Nashville from Sunday, April 28 through Saturday, May 4, shows that 78% of the automobiles taken (39 of 50) were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves. During this reporting time period, a total of nine guns were stolen during vehicle burglaries; five of those vehicles were left unlocked.

Five of the 50 vehicles stolen were left running without the driver present.

The police department’s continuing PARK SMART campaign strongly urges citizens to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables—including guns, and REMOVE THE KEYS.


71% of Last Week’s Stolen Vehicles Taken with Keys and 12 Guns Stolen During Vehicle Burglaries

4/17/2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A review of stolen vehicle reports in Nashville from Sunday, April 7 through Saturday, April 13, shows that 71% of the automobiles taken (32 of 45) were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves. During this reporting time period, a total of 12 guns were stolen during vehicle burglaries; three of those vehicles were left unlocked.

Three of the 32 vehicles stolen were left running without the driver present.

The police department’s continuing PARK SMART campaign strongly urges citizens to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables—including guns, and REMOVE THE KEYS.

Officers also urge citizens to SHOP SMART by not leaving purses or other valuables unattended in shopping carts or in plain view in vehicles, even for a very short time. An unattended purse or wallet is an easy target for a thief.


17 Guns Stolen Last Week During Vehicle Burglaries

4/11/2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A review of stolen vehicle reports in Nashville from Sunday, March 31st through Saturday, April 6th, shows that 68% of the automobiles taken (32 of 47) were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves. During this reporting time period, a total of 17 guns were stolen during vehicle burglaries; three of those vehicles were left unlocked.

Four of the 27 vehicles stolen were left running without the driver present.

The police department’s continuing PARK SMART campaign strongly urges citizens to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables—including guns, and REMOVE THE KEYS.

Officers also urge citizens to SHOP SMART by not leaving purses or other valuables unattended in shopping carts or in plain view in vehicles, even for a very short time. An unattended purse or wallet is an easy target for a thief.