Updated May 9, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Gun thefts from cars have skyrocketed in U.S., new report finds

A police officer holding a stolen pistol that was seized during a traffic stop in Reading, Pennsylvania, in August 2007.

A police officer holding a stolen pistol that was seized during a traffic stop in Reading, Pennsylvania, in August 2007. Photo: Jeremy Drey/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The rate of gun thefts from cars has tripled in the U.S. since 2013, making vehicles the most common source for stolen weapons in the country, according to a new report by the gun safety group Everytown.

Why it matters: Stolen guns are difficult to trace and are often later used in other crimes, the report notes.

By the numbers: Everytown analyzed almost a decade of FBI crime data from 337 cities across 44 states with a combined population of about 63 million people.

  • The analysis found that the rate of gun thefts from cars in these cities has tripled from 2013, rising from an estimated 21 thefts per 100,000 people that year to 63 thefts per 100,000 people in 2022.
  • Of the 112,000 guns reported stolen in 2022, about 51%, or roughly 62,000 weapons, were from stolen from vehicles.
  • On average at least one gun is stolen from a car every nine minutes in the U.S, the report stated.

The big picture: The rise in vehicle gun thefts has coincided with increases in gun ownership, adults carrying guns in public and the proliferation of permitless public carry laws.

Zoom in: The rate of gun thefts from vehicles was almost 18 times higher in cities in states with lax gun safety laws.

  • Memphis, Atlanta, St. Louis, Richmond and San Antonio were the top five cities, respectively, with the highest rates of vehicle gun thefts, according to the report.
  • Cities in states like New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey generally had the lowest rates of such thefts, according to the report.

Yes, but: These are likely conservative estimates, as only around a third of states require gun owners to report if they've lost a weapon or had one stolen from them, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Between the lines: Everytown said the trend appears disassociated with general thefts from vehicles, which decreased 11% over the 10 years that the data in the report covers.

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