Shelby County Sheriff’s Office issues warning for gun owners who leave guns in their vehicles

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 9:09 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With the new permitless carry law, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) has more concern this year than ever before.

There have been nearly 500 car break-ins in Shelby County so far this year.

While it is a large number, Detective Toby Shaw with SCSO says it shows some progress in comparison to previous years. In 2019, there were over 800 break-ins overall and in 2020, there were over one 1,000 for the entire year.

Shaw says many break-ins are done by teens.

“They don’t have anything to do. It’s fun. I’ve been a detective for about eight years and I find that kids do this for fun. They call it car hopping,” said Shaw.

He says it’s when they check the handles of multiple cars to see if they’re unlocked and then rummage through to take valuable items.

“Purses, they have phones, they have change. A lot of them are looking for guns. People leave guns inside their vehicles,” Shaw said.

With Tennessee’s new permitless carry law now in effect, law enforcement has grown even more concerned about guns being taken from cars. Because permits are no longer required to carry a gun, it’s harder for law enforcement to know who is authorized to have one.

“We never want guns falling in the wrong hands,” Shaw said.

It’s an issue Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis previously addressed.

“More than 40 percent of guns used in crimes are stolen from vehicles of law-abiding citizens,” said Davis.

Shaw advises gun owners to try not to leave their guns in the car. He shared advice for those who can’t take their guns with them.

“Install some type of lockbox inside your car and lock your gun inside your car. Those things may deter people from actually stealing your gun or stealing your valuables inside your car,” Shaw said.

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