The City of Killeen has seen a string of car burglaries where weapons have been stolen. The police department is working to remind residents to store their guns properly and keep those vehicles locked.
It's a problem law enforcement is seeing across the City of Killeen and it's happening in a blink of an eye.
Sgt. Lacey Bobbitt with the General Crimes Unit at Killeen Police Department said, "Based on my data it was not concentrated in one district it’s throughout the city. A lot of times when people leave their vehicle unsecured it’s 'I just went out and I started it and I ran back in the house for something' and unfortunately that’s when crime of opportunity occurs."
Since Wednesday, Sept. 1, Bobbitt said 34 weapons have been stolen from Killeen residents to date, 22 were from car burglaries and 14 were taken from unlocked cars.
"Out of the 22 from vehicles alone, we have only recovered two stolen weapons. So, it's 20 Stolen weapons that are out on out on the street," Bobbitt said.
This trend of break-ins has some locals practicing good habits.
James Anderson a gun owner and Killeen resident said, "I don’t leave my gun in the car I don’t put my gun in the car unless I’m going to shoot it. That’s what people look in your car for guns electronics and stuff like that."
However, other residents like Ayaliah Ford are concerned.
"It’s just really terrifying to know that people are stealing weapons that are already dangerous and now there are criminals walking around with people's guns," said Ford. "If you're so pro-gun you need to do what is necessary to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals."
Bobbitt said the best way to make sure your valuables aren’t stolen out of your vehicle is to take them out and make sure your car is locked.
"It’s not just weapons we’ve had body armor stolen loaded magazines and it and it is increasing. Please secure your weapons would hate for them to get in the hands of somebody who's going to use them for a crime or god forbid they get left out and something bad happens with them," Bobbitt said.
Of those 34 weapons stolen over the last 3 months, Sgt. Lacey Bobbitt says 2 have been recovered, one was a juvenile who also had stolen a car.
Bobbitt said "Unfortunately, most of the time that we get burglars it’s juveniles and we’ve got juveniles with guns that’s never a good thing for our community. The one that we were covered was a juvenile who was also located in a stolen vehicle. Those tend to be more gang-related. They're not just crimes of opportunity, though someone's seeking out stealing vehicles. The other one was located in a stolen vehicle in another jurisdiction during an accident. So, we do not know who the driver of that vehicle was."
Sgt. Bobbitt says recovering weapons once they are stolen is a challenge because they cannot identify them without having the serial number.
"Many of the weapons that we recover when making an arrest or when found in a stolen vehicle that's been ditched have been stolen weapons as the one that was found earlier last month and the stolen vehicle. Everybody can have a weapon but that does not mean you aren't responsible for that weapon. We are pro-guns; we are law enforcement, but you have got to take care of them properly," Bobbitt said.
According to Bobbitt robberies can happen at any time of day, so she encourages people to be aware of their surroundings and never leave spare keys and weapons in their car.