Protect home, car from burglars stealing firearms, valuables

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Sheriff's Cpl. Robert Dowell checks out some of the stolen firearms stored in the Sheriff's Office evidence.

About $55,000 worth of firearms were stolen from cars, many unlocked, and homes in unincorporated areas this year, a Rutherford County Sheriff's Office detective supervisor said.

Tennesseans may legally have loaded weapons in their vehicles, Detective Sgt. Dan Goodwin says.

"The problem is they're leaving them in cars at night and often those cars aren't locked," Goodwin said. "Another problem is failure to maintain records."

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RCSO took reports of 106 guns stolen since Jan. 1 and owners didn't have serial numbers available for 63.

"There's a near zero chance of recovery without serial numbers," Goodwin said. "Folks should log serial numbers and photograph all valuables including their weapons."

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This includes getting serial numbers off expensive telescopic sights, red dot optics, rangefinders and spotting scopes.

Serial numbers for stolen vehicles, weapons and other property are entered into the National Crime Information Center database to help locate stolen firearms and other property.

"Most burglars steal to feed drug habits and swap guns for narcotics," Goodwin said. "So these guns wind up on the street where they may be used in robberies and murders.

It's not just guns. Many people routinely leave large amounts of cash and expensive electronics in their cars.

Goodwin recommended:

  • Have bright security lights and leave them on all night.
  • Close and lock garage doors.
  • Bring all valuables into the house. Always lock and alarm their vehicles and homes.
  • Make homes and vehicles hard to enter.
  • Get a heavy, high-quality safe bolted to the floor to keep guns, jewelry and cash in your home.
  • Consider a video security system inside and out. Video security can be simple as a hunter's infrared game camera.
  • A locked driveway gate on rural homes is always a good idea.
  • Brief your family on what to do if they see suspicious persons or activity.

"Our victim in one case told us his son saw a man and woman in the backyard at about 4:30 in the morning, hours before the crime was discovered," Goodwin said. "Young folks need to be told 'If you see something, tell your folks or law enforcement fast.'"

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