Summer sees rise in entering autos and with it comes more illegal guns on the streets

Officials are asking residents to do their bit to help keep guns out of the wrong hands

Loganville Police Chief Dick Lowry addresses the TRIAD meeting in Loganville on May 5, 2023, asking people to keep cars locked overnight and removed items of value, especially guns. Photo credit: Janice Tribble

LOGANVILLE, GA (May 8, 2023) It is unfortunately a sad reality that when summer vacation gives students more free time there is an accompanying increase of entering autos. This information was shared by law enforcement officials with attendees at last week’s May TRIAD meeting in Loganville.

Speaking for the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Capt. Tim Tallent urged people to lock their cars and to remove items overnight. Most entering autos result in the theft of such things as sunglasses, change, computers and firearms – and the concerns are especially with firearms.

“We’ve recovered firearms from all over the state and a lot of times it’s from entering autos. Make sure you lock your car doors at night,” Tallent said. “Some of them have a system, they drop off a group, often in stolen cars, and they go from car to car checking to see which are unlocked.”

This was echoed by Loganville Police Chief Dick Lowry.

“He is 100 % right. They go in unlocked cars – you can see them on the Ring,” Lowry said, also reiterating that the most worrisome thing is the firearms. “In the last year we’ve got at least 50 to 75 guns that have been stolen out of vehicles.”

The City of Monroe Police Chief R.V. Watts put out a flyer on social media recently asking people to please make sure they lock vehicles as MPD is already seeing an increase in entering autos and have arrested several juveniles as a result.

Lowry said that recently all the police chiefs in Gwinnett County’s cities got together with Gwinnett County Police Chief J.D. McClure who has recently instituted a plan to try and address gun violence in the streets of Gwinnett County. A portion of the city of Loganville is in Gwinnett County.

“He has a much bigger force than we have, about 900 officers, and he’s policing a population of about a million. They do have a lot of gang members and lot of their guns come out of unlocked vehicles,” Lowry said. “They have started a program to try and do something about it and they found that about 91 % of the guns come out of unlocked vehicles. Just simply locking your car can help. It is odd to me that years ago we didn’t even worry about locking our houses, but we can’t do that anymore. Unfortunately the world has changed, and not always for the better. We have to make ourselves less of a victim. Lock your cars at night and it is best to take a gun inside with you.”

In March 2023, Gwinnett County Police Department announced a new gun crime initiative to combat gun violence, noting that while violent crime was down overall last year, the initiative was prompted by several tragic incidents involving young people killed because of gun violence. Some of these incidents involved people from the Loganville area.

The Gwinnett County initiative began on Feb. 1 with the formation of the Gun Crimes Unit consisting of two dedicated investigators to investigate all gun related incidents.

“We learned through our analysis that in 83% of gun incidents reported no one was hurt and there were very few or no investigative leads. Most investigative resources were being directed, rightly, toward cases where someone was hurt or killed; but we recognize that there is value in investigating gun crimes that don’t result in injury by connecting those weapons to specific suspects,” GCPD public information officer Sgt. Jennifer Richter said in making the announcement. “Gwinnett has invested in the Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS) which allows us to analyze shell casings collected at crime scenes and, by working with the ATF, we are able to upload our analysis to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). This cutting-edge technology allows us to connect specific guns to specific casings and potentially to the person possessing those guns.”

Richter said uniform officers have received updated training regarding collecting shell casings from scenes of gun related incidents to be analyzed by gun crime detectives to connect them to specific guns and with the GCPD Gang Unit as they investigate gun thefts, illegal possession and illegal sales. And it was that analysis that revealed that 91 % of the guns stolen in the county were stolen from vehicles.

“To combat this issue, we need the public’s help. The Community Affairs Section has begun offering firearm safety and security classes to Gwinnett residents. The Gwinnett Police Department is also offering free gun locks to all residents available at all precincts and at Headquarters,” Richter said. “As we work on this initiative we have engaged with various stakeholders such as the Gwinnett District Attorney’s Office, who we work closely with on criminal prosecutions. Community Affairs also plans to work with Gwinnett Public Schools to offer gun safety and security information where appropriate. Together, we can reduce gun violence in our community.  The Gwinnett Police Department is committed to investigating and prosecuting these cases to the fullest.”

As the nation continues to reel under the almost daily news reports of more shootings, local law enforcement officials are asking that everybody do their bit to try and reduce the opportunity for more guns to hit the streets and get into the wrong hands.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply