May 14, 2024 - News

Gun thefts from cars have skyrocketed in San Antonio, new report finds

Illustration of an outline where a gun should be held.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

San Antonio has one of the highest rates of gun thefts from cars in the U.S., 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.
  • In San Antonio, the rate of vehicle gun thefts per 100,000 people was a whopping 209.5 in 2022.
  • 3,000 firearms were stolen from cars last year and approximately 847 guns have been stolen from vehicles so far this year, according to the San Antonio Police Department.

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.
  • Texas allows open carry and for gun owners to carry firearms in their vehicle without a permit. Meanwhile, California has the strongest gun safety laws in the U.S., requires background checks and concealed carry permits among other foundational policies.

Threat level: In August, two police officers were shot, causing one to lose an eye, while in pursuit of a man wanted on multiple warrants.

  • "I've been to many shooting scenes. They're terrible scenes. When I learn that the weapon used was stolen, it's frustrating because it takes a single responsible action to make sure the gun doesn't get into the hands of the wrong person," SAPD Police Chief William McManus said in a statement

Flashback: Bexar County launched a gun-safety program called GunSafety4Bexar in 2019.

  • The initiative distributed gun safes for cars at several locations last year.
  • Last year, COPS/Metro Alliance teamed up with the mayor and police department to fund the distribution of 2,000 gun safes. However, the timeline for the program's launch remains unclear.

What they're saying: SAPD public information officer Ricardo Guzman tells Axios the department continuously reminds residents to never leave guns in a vehicle.

  • "Burglary of a vehicle is a crime of opportunity. Don't give criminals a reason to break into your vehicle," he says.

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