KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. – After a cleaning service found a loaded pistol in the room of an Outer Banks beach house where children typically stay, police are urging vacationers to keep track of their guns and safely lock them when they’re not being used.
Rebecca Lancaster, who owns Island Time Property Solutions, told The Virginian-Pilot that a Glock handgun was found in a drawer at a rental in Kill Devil Hills last week. A family with children moved in this week after the room - which had toys in a closet and bunkbeds - was used by adults the week before.
“If the cleaners had not seen it, that could have been tragic,” Lancaster told the newspaper.
She’s a registered gun owner and supports gun rights but said “this is such a big issue and people don’t see it, how deadly it could be, even as an accident.”
The gun that Lancaster turned in was the third one left at a beach rental that week, according to Kill Devil Hills police. The cleaning service owner said she has heard of other house cleaners finding guns that were left behind.
The Dare County Sheriff’s Office gets a call about once a week regarding a gun found at a rental property, Lt. Doug Oberbeck told the newspaper. A boy found one hidden under a mattress last summer and brought it to his father, who turned it in to the sheriff.
Willo Kelly, executive director of the Outer Banks Association of Realtors, said she’s heard of people finding guns taped to the underside of toilet tanks.
“You’ve got to check all the places,” she said.
Vacationers typically check out of rentals on Saturday mornings and crews clean the houses before the next group arrives hours later.
Packing can sometimes be rushed to leave on time, but Kill Devil Hills Capt. John Towler said guns should be treated with more importance than other belongings so they don’t get left behind.
“Your gun should be as primary in your mind as your keys and wallet or purse when you are leaving your rental or hotel,” he told The Virginian-Pilot in an email.