HAMPTON, Va. - Stickers of support for the military or your love of hunting might be leading criminals to your car.
Hampton Police tell us they might be a sign to thieves that a gun is somewhere inside.
“When they’re seeing that, even if the doors are in fact locked, sometimes they are breaking out the windows, searching through these vehicles in search of a firearm and a lot of times, unfortunately, they are discovering a firearm,” Sgt. Matt Bond said.
Firearms they say could end up in the wrong hands.
“These firearms are being put into the hands of minors and juveniles and convicted felons who should never be in possession of a firearm,” Sgt. Bond explained.
Just to be clear, police are not saying remove your labels.
Instead they say, “It would greatly help us when they depart to also look behind and take their firearm with them from their vehicle.”
Police said there are times when gun owners will accidentally leave their weapon out in the open, creating an easy opportunity for someone to go inside and grab it. However, they say they there are other instances where criminals go to extreme measures.
Between last November and February, police tell us they saw an increase in guns reported stolen, between 30 and 35 incidents.
In January, police said they had reports of 17 guns being stolen.
They said this is a nationwide trend.
“A lot of it is carelessness where people have just left their vehicles unlocked,” police said.
Police say you should keep the gun unloaded and in a locked safe.
If your gun is stolen, you are encouraged to report it immediately.