COLUMBIA, S.C. — Data compiled by nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety found Columbia, South Carolina, has the third highest rate of guns being stolen out of cars across the nation.
Data found that cars parked outside of homes or in parking garages is where the most guns are stolen, and authorities across the Midlands are saying the same.
Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan says that majority of the time, the car is unlocked. “Sometimes they don’t even look in the car, they just pull on the handle, if it’s locked, they just go on to the next one.”
According to Columbia Police, on May 5th, eight cars were broken into at Carolina Walk Condominiums. One of those cars belonged to former Gamecock quarterback Zeb Noland.
“I came home around 11:30 on Wednesday night and came out to go to work on Thursday morning and my truck was gone,” Noland said.
Noland saying his car was locked, but inside he stored multiple items. “I had a GUNNER dog kennel, a Yeti cooler, a Yeti box, some fishing poles, a Glock 17 - 9 millimeter and some tools.”
Inside the center console of Noland's truck was his gun. “The first thing I told the police was someone stole my truck and there’s a loaded gun in it," said Noland.
Kershaw County data found in 2019, there were 43 guns stolen from vehicles, in 2020, 35 and in 2021, 29.
While over in Sumter County, the Sheriff's Department reports a dramatic increase in thefts from cars this year. Between January 2021 to that May, there were 19 reported guns stolen from cars. For the same time period this year, there were 41 guns stolen from cars.
Boan said leaving your car unlocked with a gun inside makes you an easy target. “The kind of people that are breaking into cars are criminals, so if we’re giving criminals access to unsecured firearms, we’re arming criminals by doing that.”
Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster is seeing a very similar trend, reporting nine guns stolen in the last year. He says those guns, end up on the streets.
“We see a lot cars that are left open, parked in driveways or on the side of the street and people have not secured their firearms," Foster said. “The guns are falling into the hands of people that don’t have the proper intent for them. Those guns, in turn, are used in crimes, either crimes of violence, against people or used to commit robberies.”