TACOMA, Wash. — Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 22, 10 guns were reported stolen out of vehicles in Tacoma, according to police. Now the police department is asking gun owners to make sure their firearms are secure.
“Stolen guns are finding their way into the hands of juveniles and are being used in violent crimes," Tacoma Chief of Police Avery L. Moore said in a statement. “Many of these firearms are stolen in vehicle prowls. By not leaving firearms unattended in your vehicle, you are helping us keep guns out of the hands of juveniles.”
The reports of 10 stolen guns are only thefts of firearms from vehicle prowls. They do not include firearms stolen during vehicle thefts.
Police are urging the public to never leave guns in vehicles, even if they are locked.
"I don't want to victim-shame, saying, 'Don't lock it up because someone's gonna break into your car.' That sounds terrible to say that, but there are 202 reasons for me to do that.... in the hands of who knows who-- it's really alarming for all of us," said Wendy Haddow, public information officer for Tacoma Police Department.
In 2022, 202 guns were stolen out of vehicles in Tacoma, according to the police department. Last year was the deadliest in Tacoma’s history. According to the police department, 45 of Pierce County’s 79 homicides occurred in Tacoma last year, and 43 of them were shootings.
Police previously said there’s also been an uptick in juveniles committing violent crimes. Last August, the city released an assessment on youth violence, stating that Tacomans under age 30 die from assault at a similar rate to car crashes. The assessment described youth violence as a public health issue, and the city should take a more family-based approach to addressing it.
"We get asked all the time, 'How are juveniles getting their hands on firearms', right? And unfortunately some of those some of those guns might be coming from these vehicle prowls," Haddow said.
Earlier this month, Tacoma saw three shootings involving teenagers, with one leading to the death of 14-year-old Xaviar Siess.
There's a state law that says if a gun is not secured properly and it is used in a crime, the owner could also face criminal charges for community endangerment due to unsafe storage. The only way they wouldn't is if they report it stolen within five days.
Reporting a gun theft must be done in person or over the phone. It can't be done online.