Hoover police urge people to lock cars and secure guns after 480 gun thefts in 5 years
Hoover Police have a message for gun owners: don’t leave your gun in your car and if you do, lock the doors.
That should be common sense, but apparently it’s not.
Last year, 113 firearms were stolen from vehicles in Hoover and the majority of those vehicles were unlocked, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said.
Over the past five years, the city has investigated the thefts of 480 guns stolen from vehicles. Again, most were taken in unlocked vehicles.
“We don’t leave our iPhones in the car, but we did leave loaded guns,” Derzis said. “It’s just crazy.”
“Let’s get serious,” the chef said. “The weapons that we lose, they don’t go into personal collections. The weapons we lose are used for other crimes. It is realization.
To illustrate the scale of the problem, officers laid 113 firearms on a table which they seized to show how many guns have been stolen and lost over the past year.
Derzis said most thefts happen at night.
“Individuals show up in a particular neighborhood and walk the streets and check doorknobs,” he said. “If the door handle is locked, they move on to the next vehicle.”
“If it’s unlocked, what do they do?” They walk in and see what’s there,” he said. “Unfortunately, most of the time they find wallets, purses, electronics, money and what else? Guns.
Hoover Police investigated 335 vehicle break-ins in 2021, in which all 113 guns were stolen. “One in three cars has lost a firearm,” the chief said. ” We are not the only ones. All over America, this is happening.
Most likely, Derzis said, more gun thefts have taken place.
“It could definitely be an underreported crime,” he said. “We don’t know if that’s the total because for some people there can be an embarrassment factor…and they never report it.”
Locking car doors is definitely a deterrent.
“A lot of thieves don’t want to break a window because of the noise it makes,” Derzis said. “We get smash and grabs, and it’s usually when they see a purse sitting in the front seat.”
Very few stolen guns are recovered, and when they are, it is usually done in the context of an arrest involving a crime.
Hoover police launched their “Lock It or Lose It” campaign on Thursday in an effort to tackle what Derzis said is a growing problem with firearms being stolen from vehicles.
The social media campaign will include text alerts at 9 p.m. to Hoover residents reminding them to remove valuables from their vehicles and lock car doors. The department also offers free gun locks so weapons can be stored safely inside.
“We just can’t continue this,” Derzis said. “We see violence all over the metro area…with this type of arsenal being stolen.”