Another case near Atlanta shows thieves still get guns from cars

This week in Cartersville, police reported that thieves have been entering vehicles and stealing items, most notably several handguns.

It’s the continuation of a crime that has become common across metro Atlanta — and the nation. As more people carry guns to protect themselves from crime, more folks carry their weapons in their vehicles and leave them there.

This allows easy access for criminals, police say, to get hold of weapons and allow them or others to commit more crimes. Violent crimes.

Police said the suspects in the Cartersville case also burglarized a convenience store and stole a blue 2011 Ford F150, which authorities are looking for.

Earlier this month, Cobb County authorities indicted two people for breaking into numerous vehicles, many that had guns inside.

Authorities allege that Lawrenceville residents Elisha Ross, 22, and Ayana Forest, 25, broke into 161 vehicles throughout metro Atlanta and stole 40 guns during that spree. Their alleged crimes occurred in Smyrna, Powder Springs, Acworth, Alpharetta and Roswell, as well from other residents in Cobb, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Paulding and Clayton counties.

The couple also stole from cars parked outside fire stations in Cobb, a crime that seems to be not uncommon.

In January, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that thieves stole guns from cars outside several fire stations in Gwinnett and in DeKalb counties.

In late September 2016, The AJC reported that more than 800 guns had been stolen from cars in the city, a number that seemed would outpace the previous year’s total of about 850.

Numbers of gun thefts from cars in Atlanta so far this year were not available Saturday. But Atlanta police statistics from earlier this month show there were almost 7,400 thefts from cars this year, down about 5 percent from last year. Again, there are no numbers about how many of the thefts included guns, but it stands to reason the numbers would correlate with last year’s, perhaps trending down a bit.

“It’s a big problem across the nation,” said Cedric Alexander, the former public safety director in DeKalb County, a man who spent 40 years in law enforcement.

“Many guns used in violent crimes are stolen from autos or from burglaries at homes,” he said. “The more you have states enact open-carry laws and the more you have people carrying weapons, it becomes more and more important for people to protect and secure those weapons.

“People say ‘I want it to be accessible.’ But you can’t leave it in your glove box when you’re out of the vehicle. They should have it in their possession or have somewhere to lock it in the vehicle.”

Vehicle gun safes are available for gun owners at gun stores and online.

Ivory Young, an Atlanta councilman who represents the west side of the city, has for years seen this problem of guns stolen from cars.

“Whenever there’s a rash of (car) break-ins, this happens. If you leave your gun in your car, it will get stolen. Theft is a crime of opportunity. The last thing we need to do is to arm criminals.”

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