FESTUS, MO (KTVI)-- It`s a gun warning we`ve heard before. The Festus police chief is growing frustrated over the number of gun owners who are ignoring his advice.
"People are leaving their firearms in their cars," said Chief Tim Lewis. "Responsible gun owners need to lock and secure their weapons."
Thieves are breaking into cars and stealing the weapons. Lewis estimates his department has investigated at least 30 gun thefts from cars since 2011.
"We`re finding that most of our guns our probably going to the drug trade," said Lewis. "We`re worried about handguns falling into the hands of drug dealers."
Lewis said it`s not unusual for those drug dealers to get into a shootout with innocent people nearby. The chief citedheroin as the drug most likely linked to gun thefts.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief has warned his residents and city visitors about the problem before. Just before opening day of the 2013 baseball season he warned Cardinals fans to leave their guns at home.
The SLMPD echoed those concerns on Thursday. The department worries legal guns could become illegal guns by ending up in the hands of a criminal set on committing even crimes.
Chief Lewis said even locking a gun in a safe box inside a car is not a good idea. He tells gun owners to plan ahead. "If they know they`re going somewhere where guns won`t be allowed, they should leave them at home," he stated.