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As Concern Grows Over Youth Violence, Police Say Teens Are Stealing Guns From Unlocked Vehicles

row of parked cars in parking garage
Photo by wang ward on Unsplash

Tallahassee Police says 53 guns were stolen from cars over the past 2-and-a-half months.  Most of those cars were unlocked, and police officers say the majority of those guns were likely stolen by teens.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey says responsible gun ownership could have ensured those guns didn’t get into the hands of teenagers.

"I do support the individual’s right to own a firearm, but that comes with responsibility,” Daily says. “Do not leave your firearm in your car at night. I would not leave my cellphone. My wife would not leave her purse in the car. What makes it appropriate to leave a firearm in the car?”

Dailey says its makes sense that a gun owner should take their firearm into their home with them at night. He says just locking cars isn’t enough.

“I don’t think it’s an issue of locking cars because you can still smash a window. It is an issue of take your firearms inside your house or apartment and properly lock them up for the evening. Don’t leave a firearm in a locked or an unlocked car. That is part of being a responsible gun owner."

TPD’s Major Jason Laursen says while it’s not ideal, people often have to take extra steps to protect their belongings. He says firearms aren’t any different.

“We do understand that the reality is that we do have to lock things up, and we do have to lock our doors, and we do put locks on lockers at the gym, because people take things,” Laursen says.

Laursen says in many cases the people who are taking guns from cars are teenagers.

In general our auto burglars that we end up arresting—70% to 75% are juveniles. They’re the crews of kids that are going around basically trying doors. It’s their thing,” Laursen says.

During a meeting of city, county and school leaders Wednesday officials said there’s been an uptick recently in violence among teens--including a 16-year-old fatally shooting another teen outside the Governor’s Square movie theatre, and just a day later at a vigil for the victim, a 15-year-old accidentally shooting an attendee.

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Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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