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Press Release

Justice Department, Local Law Enforcement Partner to Fight Firearm Theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas

SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas is partnering with Bexar County and San Antonio law enforcement to urge residents to properly secure their firearms when they’re not in use.

According to data, more than 25,000 firearms have been stolen from vehicles across Texas’ four largest cities—Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio—over the past three years. In 2023, 3,146 firearms were stolen in San Antonio alone.

In many cases, investigators find that weapons used in violent crimes are those stolen from law-abiding gun owners. In August, two San Antonio police officers were injured, one of whom lost an eye, during their pursuit of a man wanted on three warrants. The gun used by the suspect against the officers turned out to be one of many that were stolen from a vehicle parked overnight outside a hotel. Stolen firearms have also been recovered from the scenes of other shootings, robberies, and murders.

Maps highlighting the areas where gun thefts are most common in Bexar County show that retail parking lots on the northwest side of San Antonio, as well as parts of Alamo Ranch, are hot spots for activity.

It takes a thief less than 15 seconds to break into a vehicle and steal a gun. While it’s common for gun owners to leave their firearms unsecured under a vehicle seat or in an unlocked compartment, legitimate gun safes concealed and fixed to the inside of a vehicle can assist in the prevention of theft.

“Leaving a firearm unsecured in your vehicle is not just negligence. It’s an open invitation to chaos and every responsible gun owner must recognize that,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “Don’t make it any easier for criminals. Carry with a plan and understand that a locked car is not a locked safe.”

“We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of guns stolen from vehicles in Bexar County in the last year,” said Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales. “When a gun is stolen from a gun owner who leaves it in a vehicle, that same weapon can be used in another crime that causes serious injury or death. Please take your gun with you whenever possible or secure it in a gun safe and never leave your weapon in your vehicle overnight.”

“The fact that criminal organizations have now prioritized stealing firearms left in unsecured vehicles, has increasingly become a threat to public safety nationwide,” said Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar. “Responsible gun ownership can decidedly reduce violent crime alone, but more importantly eliminate the opportunity of illegal weapons falling into the hands of violent criminals.”

“I’ve been to many shooting scenes. They’re terrible scenes,” said Chief William McManus for the San Antonio Police Department. “When I learn that the weapon used was stolen, it’s frustrating because it takes single responsible action to make sure the gun doesn’t get into the hands of the wrong person.”

In November, the DOJ named San Antonio as one of five new cities in its National Public Safety Partnership (PSP) program. PSP is managed by the Office of Justice Program’s (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and has a proven track record of helping partner sites reduce crime, improve homicide clearance rates, and enhance the quality of life for community members.

In addition to combatting gun violence, PSP brings opportunities over a three-year span to broaden federal partnerships and create task forces, develop innovative technological solutions, enhance crime analysis capabilities, further community engagement, and more. The DOJ is committed to advancing work that promotes civil rights, increases access to justice, supports crime victims, protects the public from crime and evolving threats, and builds trust between law enforcement and the community. The PSP initiative supports and advances the DOJ’s principles in all of its activities.


Updated January 10, 2024

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