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By Larry Flowers
January 27, 2017
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Since the beginning of the year, there has been an increasing number of firearms stolen from vehicles in Murfreesboro.
The problem is not unique to that specific area, it's happening all over the state.
Police are not only concerned about the public's safety, but also their own safety since the guns are now unaccounted for.
Terry Parks is just one of the victims who had a gun stolen.
"You feel violated enough that your property has been broken into and stolen," Parks said.
Parks' gun was stolen from his Jeep while it was parked in his yard. Several of his neighbor's cars were also broken into.
"A .380 semi-automatic handgun was gone," Parks said.
Parks told News 2 he hopes whoever took the gun doesn't use it to cause harm.
"Hopefully no one is going to end up getting hurt or killed because of something like that," he said. "It's scary."
Since the beginning of the year, more than a dozen guns have been stolen from vehicles and homes in Murfreesboro.
"They are in high demand, especially among people who can't legally buy them, so it's something that can be easily sold from person to person," Murfreesboro police spokesman Sgt. Kyle Evans said.
Murfreesboro police said the guns could end up in the wrong hands.
"Once these guns are stolen, there are eventually going to end up in the hands of criminals, that are going to use them to commit crimes, gang members," Evans said. "They could also end up in the hands of irresponsible gun owners."
Police work closely with businesses like Bullseye Guns Gear and Pawn to make sure they don't buy, sell or trade stolen guns.
Bullseye owners also used a data base to check each gun that comes through.
"It goes through what we call TICS, which Tennessee Instant Checks System, but that also goes through the national database as well to see if the gun is reported stolen," said owner Annette Lane.
ATF officials told News 2, criminals are educating themselves on the strict gun laws.
Since many businesses don't allow guns inside criminals are aware that people are leaving them in their vehicles.
More than 8,800 guns were recovered in Tennessee in 2015.
Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga top the list of recovered firearms.
But many more are still on the streets.
"Firearms, drugs, gangs, it's very dangerous for law enforcement, but it's also dangerous for the public at large," Evans said.
ATF officials say there is a responsibility that goes along with owning firearms.
They say owners can purchase personal safes for their vehicles and homes, which could serve as a deterrent for criminals.
Police also remind people to keep their vehicle doors locked.
Murfreesboro police also recommend recording the serial numbers of your firearm and any other household items, so if they are stolen the chances are greater your items will be returned if recovered.
Police offer a free, secure website called Leads Online where you can keep a detailed list of your items in the event they are stolen.