Investigators with Lakewood Police say they're concerned about a growing crime: people stealing guns from cars.
Since May, more than 20 guns were stolen from private owners in Lakewood, says Agent Lindsay Jones with Lakewood Police. That's something the department has not seen in years.
"In a couple incidents, multiple firearms were stolen so there's 23 guns at least, still out there," Jones says, "we haven't recovered any of them."
In the state of Colorado, it's legal for drivers to keep a gun in the car if it's used for protection.
Car break-ins are a common crime in the city of Lakewood but it's unusual to have so many guns stolen from vehicles, investigators said.
"It's obviously an increased concern for us because we don't know what that gun is going to be used for," Jones explains.
Jones doesn't think thieves are targeting cars with guns but says it's possible more drivers are carrying weapons.
"They've seen an increase in crime either in their neighborhood or it's just something that makes them feel safer," she said.
Some drivers may keep a gun in the car for protection, but from the perspective of law enforcement, it seems most drivers aren't keeping their guns safe.
"A lot of people will leave them in the pocket of the door, in the console or under the seat," Agent Jones says, "obviously those aren't secure locations."
She recommends a car safe and also says drivers should bring their guns inside at night.
Lakewood Police experienced a rash of thefts at gun stores in the past but say this crime trend puts residents at risk.
"The thing is, we expect guns to be stolen at those stores and those stores take precautions," she says, "a vehicle offers little protection."
Lakewood Police recovers guns almost every day, according to Jones. She says she believes more guns are being stolen from cars across Colorado.
In 2016, 55 stolen firearms were recovered in the Denver metro area resulting in 15 arrests, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
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