On the weekend of Thanksgiving a Jeep was broken into and an AR-15 rifle was stolen in Plano.
That marked the 70th report of a vehicle burglary this year in which a firearm was stolen, which accounts for 79 stolen firearms.
That’s a steady number from past years, Plano police said. And that’s what’s alarming.
“When you figure 70 (firearm theft reports) out of 1,000 (BMVs), that’s a low percentage,” said Officer David Tilley, spokesman for the Plano Police Department. “But we’ve all become complacent. It’s just like driving. You have to pay attention. It’s a privilege to drive your vehicle when you have a driver’s license. It’s the same with gun ownership. Owning a gun comes with responsibility.”
The most recent incident occurred late Nov. 26 or early Nov. 27 at the Estancia at Ridgeview Ranch Apartments on Independence Parkway. Tilley said the thief broke into a Jeep and stole the rifle. He said there were reports of similar BMVs on that property the same night.
Tilley said residents have left firearms in center consoles, glove boxes, under the seats and even in plain sight. He encourages everyone to remove their firearms when it’s left unattended.
Tilley said if a gun must be left in a vehicle, options include keeping it in a lockbox chained to the seat or a gun vault that is mounted to the vehicle.
He said locking car doors is just as important, even if there's not a firearm in the vehicle.
"If we could get 100 percent compliance on that our BMVs would be cut down by half, or more," Tilley said.
He said there are certain types of criminals commit certain types of crimes, and while “BMV’ers” are typically not the same people who would rob a bank, the unknown of what happens once a gun is stolen is scary.
“I would hate to get the call where I was told the weapon I carelessly left behind was one that took someone’s life,” Tilley said.
The Plano Police Department posted on its Facebook page how widespread the problem is across the country. “The Guardian US” and “The Trace” conducted a report stating that 1,600 guns are stolen every day and many of those end up being used in crimes, the post stated. A study by researchers at Harvard and Northeastern University found that thieves steal between 300,000 and 600,000 firearms in the United States every year, it stated. That is more than one per minute.
In addition to removing the firearm from the vehicle Tilley also encourages gun owners to write down the firearm’s serial number to help it get recovered if it’s stolen.