Officials: Hundreds of guns stolen in Middle Georgia each year
MACON, Ga. -- Bibb County Violent Crimes investigator Joseph Vamper says it’s no secret between Macon’s criminals that stolen guns are easy to get here.
"I've interviewed a lot of suspects and I'll never forget this guy told me that the easiest thing to do in Macon is to buy a gun on the street," Sgt. Vamper said.
Bibb County Sheriff's Office records show that in 2017, 442 guns were reported stolen -- guns that Sgt. Vamper says are used to commit violent crime in Macon like "homicides, aggravated assaults and home invasions."
These guns aren't just stolen in Macon.
One incident report shows a gun taken in Warner Robins was used in the burglary that left a family dog shot and killed in November of last year in Macon.
WGXA used an open records request to get dozens of reports of guns being stolen in both Macon and Warner Robins to try to find out how they end up on the street.
In the reports, case after case showed where guns were left unsecured in people's homes and cars where criminals could easily get them. For example, like in a car glove compartment with the doors unlocked or in a home under a mattress or just lying on a nightstand.
In one case last year, a truck was broken into where seven guns were stolen from the inside.
Captain Michael Bittick at the Bibb County Crime Lab says cars are where they see guns stolen the most.
"We all are busy with our lives and sometimes we get a little complacent," he said. "We get in a hurry, but especially when it comes to weapons and things like that, we need to make sure we're taking them out of the car and not leaving them there at night."
Bittick says sometimes there’s no way to prevent your gun from being stolen. But there were many cases where people left their guns unsecured.
Are you willing to let your gun fall into the wrong hands?
"For a person to have a gun on the street that makes them very dangerous," Vamper said. "Especially if he has a history of violent crime -- nine times out of 10, yes, he's going to commit another violent crime."
"It really is a privilege to own a gun," Womble said. "So don't take it for granted. You can't ever move forward once you've lost a family member to a stolen gun."