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Roanoke police say stolen guns are on the rise

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Stolen guns are a major concern for law enforcement in Roanoke. Figures show the Star City is on pace to have the highest number of stolen firearms since 2012.

"Someone could get hurt, injured or killed with that firearm whether it be through an intentional criminal act or just negligence," said Deputy Chief Monti Lee with the Roanoke City Police Department.

According to police, 129 guns were reported stolen in 2011. In 2012, that number jumped to 162 and then steadily declined to 137 in 2015. Now in 2016, the city appears to be on pace for what could be a five-year high with 86 guns reported stolen so far. While each case is different, officers say the biggest common denominator is guns left in unlocked homes and cars.

"A large percentage of these firearms taken have been in vehicles for an extended period of time with the owner's knowledge in unlocked cars," said Lee. "Likewise they have firearms inside of their house where they show them to multiple people and then the firearms just turn up missing."

Lee says recovery rates are historically low, but it's an upward trend that is preventable.

"Do not leave it in your car, don't let people know that you have that firearm unless it's a need-to-know basis," he says. "If it's at your house, keep it in a secure area."

Police said one of the biggest challenges in recovery is that people don't have the make, model and serial number of their stolen gun. People are reminded to record that information which could make the recovery process easier.