Guns stolen from cars becomes daunting crime trend

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Whether it be the crack of a window or the click of a car door, criminals are finding easy ways to get their hands on guns.

Metro Police Commander Terrence Graves has witnessed firsthand how the gun theft crime trend has evolved.

“There was a period of time where we saw a lot of gun shops being broken into within the city and surrounding counties,” Graves adds, “Many of those guns ended up on the streets of Nashville, and several of those were on the streets of the North Precinct.”

Graves has been commander at North Precinct for seven years. He started with the Metro Nashville Police Department in 1997.

Now Graves faces another daunting trend: guns stolen from cars.

“I hear the other commanders speak every week, and everyone is reporting stolen gun cases.”

Graves explains, “A lot of the times people are just pulling car door handles to see if they find one unlocked… then inside the unlocked car they’ll find a gun… oftentimes those guns are loaded.”

He continues, “Those guns will turn up either on a crime scene or in an arrest situation.”

As of September 11, 2019, metro police officers have recovered 1,494 guns that people were carrying unlawfully. 

“The scary thing to that is we have taken 1,494 opportunities where somebody could have decided to battle it out with us.”

595 have been flagged as stolen guns. That’s on track to break the record of most reported stolen guns in Nashville.

Guns Stolen from Cars
ReportsFirearms
2014:217266
2015:254299
2016:384431
2017:508576
2018:660771
2019:527595

The staggering statistics emphasize a problem that creates a dangerous situation for community members and police officers.

“I can recall one case that happened at Midtown Hills – which was just off the party district downtown – and a guy stole an AR-15 out of a car. He was walking down the street when officers contacted him.” Graves says the suspect was taken into custody safely, “Of course that could have gone bad depending on his motives.”

According to Graves, 50 guns have been reported stolen in the North Precinct. 31 were from unlocked cars.

North Precinct Commander Terrence Graves shows the area of Davidson County he serves (pink).

Graves believes a catalyst could be a Tennessee law that allows people to carry guns in their cars without a carry permit.  Because of that, he thinks more people are carrying guns in their cars, leaving them inside, and leaving cars unlocked.  

He calls it a scary situation.

“Like in my precinct, which is only a portion of the county, in the last seven days six people were shot.”  So far, two arrests have been made. Graves says, “Most likely than not, those were guns that were obtained illegally.”

News 2 digs deeper into the disturbing trend of stolen guns, the impact on the area and the effect on crime rates. Watch our special reports “Guns of Nashville” all day Thursday in every newscast.  Plus, stay tuned for a half-hour special Sunday, September 22 at 4:30 p.m.

Stories featured include:
Stolen guns used in ‘alarming’ crimes in Tennessee, Kentucky
ATF leads the charge against the stolen gun trend
Family’s custom firearms stolen during target shoot competition in Nashville
Mt. Juliet police step up in fight against stolen guns

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