Atlanta Police Say It's a Problem: 954 Guns Stolen from Cars in City Last Year

One study found a 40 percent annual increase in number of firearms stolen from vehicles in 2015. 

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The Atlanta police chief's recent appeal to college football fans driving to the city for Monday's championship game to not bring and leave guns behind in their cars made headlines across the U.S. but also illustrates a problem that's been plaguing cities across the country for years. 

"I can tell you for sure this is an ongoing problem in the city of Atlanta. Firearms are routinely stolen from the inside of vehicles," said Carlos Campos, the police department's director of public affairs.

Last year, 954 firearms were stolen from vehicles in Atlanta in 2017, according to police. 

"As you can see, the problem is real, which is why chief Shields made this appeal," said Campos of Thursday's plea by Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields.

"Please, please execute the highest regard and greatest level of common sense. We cannot have folks continuing to bring guns and leaving them in their cars," Shield told a news conference about security ahead of Monday night's College Football Playoff Championship game between the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama at a stadium in downtown Atlanta.

A study by researchers at Harvard and Northeastern University estimates about 380,00 firearms are stolen in the U.S. every year. 

And, in 14 of 15 cities that offered 2015 data for the research, police departments reported a 40 percent annual rise in the number of firearms stolen from cars, according to an analysis by The Trace, a nonprofit devoted to expanded gun coverage.

Atlanta topped the list in numbers of gun thefts from vehicles, followed by Jacksonville, Florida;  Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; and Las Vegas, Nevada, according to the analysis.

The Trace

Firearms left in cars in an important issue that needs to be addressed by gun-carrying motorists, said Campos.

"We want to urge people to be responsible with their weapons -- perhaps invest in a mounted lockbox or safe where they can secure them, should they have to enter venues where firearms are not allowed."