WRAL Investigates

Stolen guns from cars put further strain on Durham Police

When guns are stolen in Durham, the story doesn't stop there. Sgt. Michael Beal of the DPD discusses how these stolen guns affect the work in a short staffed department

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Sarah Krueger
, WRAL Durham reporter
DURHAM, N.C. — When a gun is stolen in Durham, the story doesn't stop there.

It means the firearm is now on the streets -- often untraceable -- and in the hands of criminals.

Sgt. Michael Beal of the Durham Police Department's Community Service Division is among the officers searching for those guns, to protect the public.

"Sometimes those guns do go on to be used in violent crimes and shootings and other criminal activities." said Beal, "And because they're stolen, it's extremely hard for us to follow through and to track those,"

Beal, who is also a certified firearms instructor, said when a gun is stolen, there's a ripple of impacts that places strain on an already under-staffed department.

If fewer guns were stolen, Beal said, "We could reduce our call volume, our officers having to respond out to those incidents initially. We could reduce the follow-up crimes that are associated with those. our investigators would have more time to focus on other things,"

The staffing issues come as much of the nation struggles with filling job vacancies in many police departments. WRAL News reported in July that the Durham Police Department had a 20 percent vacancy rate.

Gun theft can be reduced. Most guns stolen, according to police, had been left in places where the potential of theft was a high possibility.

In data obtained from the Durham Police Department, from Jan. 1 through Nov. 26 of 2022. There were 331 cases of one gun or multiple guns being stolen.

In 56 percent of those cases, guns were stolen from cars. In 62 percent of those instances, the car was unlocked, meaning these are highly preventable crimes.

"It presents a huge safety concern for our city and our community," said Beal.

Beal also is encouraging people to store their guns inside their homes, in a safe, or with a lock. Beyond that, he says it's important to record your gun's serial number.

"If their gun were to be stolen for any reason, we would have that serial number available immediately to enter into the national database that can help us track and recover that gun a little bit easier" said Beal.

He also noted that those who decided to surrender a gun because it is no longer needed or wanted in the home can turn it in to any local police department.


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