Guns Stolen From Vehicles Used in Crimes

Some Brits across the ocean who write for a publication called The Guardian (not super 2a) estimated up to 600,000 guns are stolen in the U.S. each year. Is this accurate? It's hard to know exactly, but for sure, criminals steal a lot of guns from vehicles.

A Nashville, TN news channel has reported that in 2021, of the 1,152 firearms stolen in the city, 691 or 60% were stolen out of vehicles.

foundation belt gun belt

That is just the statistics from one city in Tennessee. Imagine the number if we tallied all the cities!

And keep in mind, those are only the guns reported as being stolen, meaning that the actual number is somewhat higher. I'm reasonably sure that not all gun thefts get reported.

Storing guns in vehicles —

Why does any of this matter?

If you leave your gun in an unlocked car, you aren't making wise decisions — and that is me putting it as nicely as I can.

You should only leave your gun in the car reluctantly and out of necessity. For example, you have to run into a non-permissive location like court or school.

Then, don't stash it in the glove box of your vehicle. Instead, locking it in a container meant to hold firearms securely makes more sense. Yes, a safe costs money. However, a good vehicle vault likely costs much less than replacing a stolen handgun.

Check out this option from Console Vault. You can read the full review by clicking here.

In case it wasn't blatantly obvious, let's go over a few more reasons why you should lock up your gun if you must leave it in your car:

Vehicle Burglaries —

By and large, property crime has become an accepted part of life. Sentences for convictions are lax, and understaffed police departments allocate resources to work on violent crimes. Stores tell employees not to even engage with shoplifters. As a result, theft is commonplace and goes unpunished.

guns left in carsIn 2020 there were 810,400 vehicle thefts reported by the 9,991 law enforcement agencies that give data to the FBI, an 11.8% increase from the previous year. Conversely, the number of property crimes in 2020 totaled 6,452,038, a decrease of 7.4% from 2019.

Several stores have closed locations or changed hours because of the unsustainable thefts and lack of police response. So I speculate the decreased property crime number is more due to a lack of victim reporting than a genuine reduction in criminal activity.

People are not shy about stealing things, and we should guard with all effort against thieves getting free guns.

The majority of guns used in crimes are guns stolen from homes and vehicles. Being a responsible gun owner means you're not part of feeding that beast.

It gives the anti-gunners a reason to complain —

If you're like me, the sound an anti-gun person makes when talking about why you don't need an AR-15 or that semi-auto gun makes you cringe. The false media narrative about guns and gun owners makes us all look like monsters. Whenever a criminal uses a gun, it is used as justification to come after our gun rights.

It's almost like they're saying that these “law-abiding citizens” can't even properly take care of their guns; let's take away their right to self-defense.

To tie a bow on this point, not too long ago, the city I live in was deliberating whether to allow a large company to build an indoor gun range in the city. One of the major arguments against the project was that the range would draw gun owners to the area. They warned gun owners would bring their guns to the range and then, when finished, leave them in their vehicles while they shopped at the nearby stores. Then the guns could be stolen and used in crimes throughout the city.

The company decided to build it in a different city.responsible gun owners

It costs you money —

I haven't had a gun stolen from my vehicle; however, I know people who have. Every one of them was upset about the theft. The damage to the vehicle and all the other stuff taken was frustrating. Realizing that a criminal now has a gun and could kill someone with it was frightening and sobering. And they realized that they were unarmed and had to replace the gun.

Guns are expensive, at least good ones you trust to carry for your everyday carry (EDC).

I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend that money on ammo, training, or to take my wife out to dinner.

Re-Cap —

Don't leave your gun in your car unless you must. And when you do have to, your goal should be to make your gun as hard to steal as you possibly can. Try the following-

  1. Lock your car. I have researched this and concluded that many people who have their guns stolen aren't even locking their doors. Lock it up.
  2. Lock up your gun in your locked car. Gun vaults make it harder to get the gun, and sometimes criminals are lazy and give up.
  3. Mount or place the vault out of sight.
  4. Don't put a bunch of gun manufacturer stickers on your vehicle
  5. Don't use car holsters, keep the gun on you unless you must disarm

Does Console Vault make a safe for your vehicle?

A safe mounted to the vehicle like this one from Console Vault, is a good option if you simply must leave the gun in the car.

*This post has been updated and was originally published in December 2020.

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.


  1. Gary on December 23, 2020 at 10:10 am

    Joshua – great recap and all of your recommendations are “on point”.

    I would have to think that many of these idiots are also criminals and once they want to distance themselves from a gun (for whatever reason) they want to go on record as NO LONGER BEING THE OWNER of that specific firearm.

    Either way – you are correct, it makes the law abiding gun owners look bad or gives the anti 2A people something more to point at to diminish our rights.

    • Charlie on March 17, 2022 at 12:06 am

      Secure your gear !!!! You are responsible to secure your firearm and a car is up to a 10 day vacation lost , possible 30 day suspension with out pay and on your record for a LEO.

      That stolen gun can be used in a crime or could lead to a death

      For a civilian that could be 1 yr loss of gun permit !
      And if you use it for a job than you have a issue.

  2. Michael Nistler on December 16, 2021 at 2:01 am

    In fact, even LEOs vehicles and personal carry have been subject to theft. In 2015, the San Francisco Bay Area had two high-profile fatal incidents where the killings involved guns stolen from vehicles of federal agents. A follow-up 8 state review uncovered more than 500 weapons were missing over the past 6 years. The Bay Area News Group identified almost 1,000 lost or stolen LEO weapons between 2010 and 2016. This created such a stir, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation levying a $1,000 fine on officers who fail to lock up guns stored in their cars.

    Of course LEOs and leadership embarrassment leads to underreporting of stolen police firearms unless discovered on high profile cases. For instance, in the case of the recent Kenosha, Wisconsin riots resulting from a LEO firing on Jacob Blake (a black man), officer Rusten Sheskey was not suspended for having his Glock 17 service weapon stolen from his girl friends glove box until AFTER his acquittal. Police chief Daniel Miskinis waited 7 months after the Sheskey’s shooting to discipline the officer, knowing an earlier reprimand would likely affect the Jury deliberations.

    Bottom line, if our law enforcement can be careless handling and storing weapons, it underscores the importance for citizens to be especially diligent handling, carrying and storing firearms in vehicles and residences.

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