PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth Police have been busy lately and we’re not just talking about the work they do investigating violent crimes.

Recently, car break-ins have become a big problem in the city, ultimately bringing crime to neighborhoods.
People aren’t just getting away with wallets and phones. Lately, Portsmouth Detective Brian Davis says there’s been an uptick in stolen guns.

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“It’s a very big issue, one of our driving indicators here for crime with our larcenies from autos,” said Davis.

Since the beginning of the year, he says 70 firearms have been stolen from vehicles in Portsmouth. Fifty of those were taken from vehicles that were unlocked, making some community members an easy target.

“A lot of times these are crimes of opportunity. People aren’t seeking out firearms, they’re just checking vehicles and once you find an unlocked vehicle it’s just a treasure trove of what you find,” explained Davis.

The worst part of it all is where those stolen guns reappear.

“A lot of them can be used down the road in future crimes,” said Davis.

Police say they may not just stay in the area where they were taken; they can be transported to other cities and sold illegally, spreading the crime around.

Davis said they’ve been working to bring awareness to the issue to remind people to be vigilant in locking your car and to never leave your gun in your car.

“I know our community officers they go to civic league meetings, they put out the information about locking your vehicles,” Davis stated.

They also hand out key chains at community events, and give out free gun locks to anyone who wants one to help with overall gun safety in homes.

However, Davis said if it’s too little too late, it’s important to know your gun’s make, model, caliber, and serial number for detectives to properly investigate.