WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita police said 106 guns have been stolen out of vehicles so far this year and several of them have been used to commit other crimes.
Police said more than 2,400 car break-ins have been reported in 2019. Some had weapons inside and officers said it’s not happening in just one area of the city but all over.
The map below shows where the gun thefts have occurred:
“That’s still a lot of guns that are being stolen out of cars by criminals and then being used in criminal activities,” said Lt. Scott Brunow, WPD Auto Theft and Larcenies.
Some crimes have ended deadly, like the shooting death of Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Robert Kunze in 2018. Another is a case where a man with a stolen gun entered an off-duty officer’s home last summer.
“He was in bed when the shooter came into his house, and they had a shootout,” said Lt. Brunow. “He killed the suspect, but the suspect had a gun that was stolen out of a car.”
Earlier this month, police said three teens robbed the Kwik Shop in Maize with a gun that was stolen from a car.
Lt. Brunow specializes in investigating these types of crimes. He said the criminals aren’t taking the stolen guns to pawn shops because they’ll be checked. Instead, Brunow said they’re trading them.
“Most of the time, it’s dopers,” said Lt. Brunow. “Someone who’s on drugs steals it, and it ends up in another doper’s hands. That’s all they can do really is trade them back and forth.”
One Wichita family said a pistol was stolen out of their truck that was parked right in front of their house.
“When I got home where my husband normally parks, there was evidence that there was a hanger on the ground,” said Stephanie Hill, gun theft victim. “So, that’s how they got in his truck.”
Hill said not only did the criminals steal the gun, but they took her family’s sense of security, too.
Lt. Brunow recommends keeping items out of sight in your vehicle and to remember to always take your belongings inside because criminals aren’t doing a quick smash and grab.
“Once they get in there, they’ll rummage through it and probably under the seats, the console, glove box,” said Lt. Brunow. “They’re finding guns.”
Police estimate by the end of the year nearly 250 guns will be stolen out of cars in Wichita alone.
Officers said to never leave your gun in your car and remember to always lock your doors.