Lynchburg police urge gun owners to lock their cars

In last five years, 118 guns were reported stolen out of unlocked cars

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Everyday, Lynchburg Arms & Indoor Shooting Range store manager Maynard Lawhorn sees customers who can legally buy a gun.

"If you're going to take a responsibility and to carry a gun, you need to be completely safe with it and you need to also keep it secure," Lawhorn said.

But some people are having a problem keeping it secure. The Lynchburg Police Department said too many gun owners are leaving their weapons in their cars.

"So the (thieves) may have gone into the vehicle hoping to get some change or something of value and then they stumble upon a firearm," Sgt. Luke Bryan said.

A car door left unlocked is an inviting target for thieves.

"When its in the hands of somebody that's irresponsible with that firearm or somebody that's legally not allowed to possess it. Time is of the essence," Bryan said.

In the last five years, 118 guns were reported stolen out of unlocked cars in Lynchburg. Only 25 percent of them have been recovered.

There's been 18 stolen this year and only seven guns have gone back to their rightful owners.

"We won't recover that firearm until a further traffic stop or when we do a search warrant or house warrant for something else," Bryan said.

Police said some guns are being found in other areas of Central Virginia, Washington, D.C., and as far out as Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

Both the LPD and Lawhorn said it's an easy fix. Lock your car doors and or buy a personal gun vault for your car.

"It has a steel cable that you can wrap around your seat frame. They'd have to tear something up to get it out," Lawhorn said while describing how a vault works.