By Alex Fees
FESTUS, Mo. (KSDK) - Festus police say they normally experience crooks stealing iPads, cell phones, laptops, and GPS units out of unlocked vehicles.
Add one more valuable item to that list: weapons.
Captain Don Lassing said so far this year Festus police have investigated 15 reports of firearms stolen from vehicles.
"Recently, back in end of November, we had an incident where two vehicles were broken into here in Festus. The vehicles were parked in a driveway. And 2 subjects were arrested for stealing weapons," said Lassing.
He said they've had three reports within the past two weeks.
"The November 22 incident the officers were able to take two subjects into custody. One was carrying one of the handguns stolen from one of the vehicles. And early the next morning we were able to recover a large caliber deer rifle," said Lassing.
He said investigators have noticed that more than half of the thefts took place in vehicles that were left unlocked. He believes thieves are targeting weapons based upon their value.
"In this year we have seen a lot of these reports come through," he said. "In years past we've had several thefts from vehicles where they steal GPS units or radar detectors, or items people leave in their cars. This year we've seen an overabundance of people leaving firearms in their vehicles."
Lassing said the issue of stolen weapons unaccounted for is an issue of safety for law enforcement officers. He said in the November 22 incident, police received reports of people in the area checking for unlocked cars. When officers responded they arrested two suspects. One of them had a stolen handgun in his waistband.
"It's a crime of opportunity. When you leave expensive items in your vehicle with door unlocked, or in plain view, it's going to get stolen," he said.
Lassing said none of the stolen weapons have yet turned up in the commission of a crime.