Earlier this week, we told you about a handgun that was stolen from a truck in Sioux Falls three years ago, and recently used in a drive-by shooting in Chicago. Sioux Falls Police say on average, a gun is stolen from a car at least once a week.
Whether it be from homes or cars, so far this year 98 guns have been stolen in Sioux Falls. Last year, there were 151.
"We average about one gun that's stolen from an unlocked car a week," said Officer Sam Clemens. "The real danger with that is we don't know where those guns are going or who's hands they're going to end up in."
Police say there is a way to track down some of them. When a gun is reported stolen, the serial number gets put into a national database, called the National Crime Information Center. If that gun is ever recovered, police look for the same number in the database. That's how Chicago Police tracked a gun used in a drive-by shooting in September to a gun stolen from a car three years ago in Sioux Falls.
Clemens said, "Having a gun that was used in a crime like the shooting in Chicago, that's probably a little bit more rare, but there's probably a good chance that some of those stolen guns are involved in different crimes we just don't know about."
Police say most of the guns recovered in Sioux Falls are found during traffic stops or during a search warrant when looking for another crime. And most of them don't travel far.
"I'd say a majority of those are recovered in or around Sioux Falls," said Clemens.
Police say some criminals try to scratch off the serial number to stolen guns. When buying one from someone other than a retailer, they say it's best to ask a lot of questions.
"Why they have that gun? Where they got that gun from? See if you can get some of those details," Clemens said. "If you're looking at a $1,200 gun and somebody's trying to sell it for $50, there's probably a reason for that."
Police say often times their crime lab can restore those serial numbers. They also say you can call them if you one them to look up a serial number, to see if the gun has ever been stolen.
Police say if you do buy a gun from a retailer, they are required by the ATF to complete paperwork and they have records of serial numbers. However, if you buy a gun in a private sale, no paperwork is required.