NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Metro police have seen 1,306 guns stolen from cars so far this year, beating last year’s record high of 1,305, and there has been an uptick in criminals smashing windows to get them.

Just last week, 29 firearms were stolen from cars and trucks, according to Metro police. More than 70% of all guns reported stolen in 2022 were taken from vehicles.

Thieves continue to break into cars with guns in plain sight, however, now they are targeting certain cars that look like they have guns inside.

“Four-wheel drive vehicles, pickup trucks, SUVs, anything that looks more rugged and that someone who would own a gun would drive it,” Sgt. Catherine Poole with the Metro Nashville Police Department said. “Before it was more pulling door handles, going in the parking lot, checking what was easily accessible, but we have noticed an upward trend where it doesn’t matter if it’s unlocked or not, they’re going to bust the window.”

In addition, many criminals are choosing not to steal cash and other valuables found in the cars they break into, because they are exclusively looking for firearms, according to Poole.

The stolen guns are getting into youths’ hands who are using the weapons to commit violent crimes, including robberies and murder.

“We recently had a gun that was stolen from a vehicle that was used for a murder in another county, so it happens,” Poole said.

Poole told News 2 the main concern is the sheer number of stolen guns now on the streets. Metro police advise the public to take their guns with them instead of leaving them in the car.

“With current staffing levels and other limitations, we can only be in so many areas at one time, so that leaves a lot of vulnerability still that could be bolstered up by people taking responsibility by saying, ‘Hey, I understand this is a problem, what can I do to protect me?'” Poole said. “Potentially save someone else’s life whose life could be taken from my gun, because at the end of the day, that would be a horrible thought to live with from that point.”

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Poole said if you have no other choice but to leave your gun in your car, make sure it’s in a gun safe that is attached to a part of your car that cannot be removed.