From Jan. 1, 2019, to Sept. 24, 2019 the Columbia Police Department received reports of 213 stolen firearms. City spokesman Steve Sapp says CPD has recovered 93 of those stolen guns.
Dale Roberts, executive director of the Columbia Police Officers’ Association said there is a network of people buying and selling stolen guns in Columbia.
“I think the majority of crimes involving firearms are done with a stolen firearm,” Roberts said.
Roberts said stolen firearms are more disposable than legally obtained guns.
“If you pay a much smaller amount of money than retail for a gun on the street, it’s easier for you to give it up, to either sell it to someone else and let them use it and pass it on or throw it away,” he said.
Roberts said stolen firearms can pose a danger to police because the people who have them usually have the intent to use them for criminal activity.
“You know, what do I say? It’s like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenager. It’s just a bad combination. Most criminals don’t seek out stolen firearms because they want to collect firearms,” he said.
He said most people get stolen firearms from a family member or friend, but sometimes they resort to what is called a straw purchase. This is when someone without a criminal record buys a firearm for someone who cannot legally obtain one.
Roberts said if a stolen firearm is not reported, it can make investigations much longer. He said if police find a stolen gun, law enforcement will go to the manufacturer to find out which company it went to for sale. Then, they have to find out which store it was sold in, and ask who bought the firearm.
“That’s one of the reasons it’s so important for someone to report a stolen firearm, because then law enforcement has the make, model, and serial number readily available, and they can identify the gun right away,” he said.
A total of 66 guns were stolen from Tiger Pawn in Columbia earlier this month, but Roberts said it is more common for people to steal from individuals’ cars or other places they may have guns.