AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Cedar Park police department is seeing more guns stolen during car burglaries at the start of the new year.

In the month of January, the police department reported 18 car burglaries with three guns stolen. Police said that’s a 16.6% rate of car burglaries that result in stolen guns.

Comparing that data to 2022, only 7.6% of car burglaries resulted in a stolen gun, according to CPPD.

This problem is not isolated to Cedar Park. The Austin Police Department reported that 64% of missing or stolen firearms in 2022 stemmed from car burglaries.

Cedar Park police chief Mike Harmon said these car burglaries can happen in public areas, like a shopping mall parking lot or a park, but a majority of the guns are stolen out of cars parked in the gunowner’s own driveway.

“It’s definitely alarming because, you know, people always ask the question, you know, how do criminals get ahold of firearms if they have criminal records or whatever it may be? Well this is one way,” Harmon said.

How to avoid becoming another statistic

Harmon said these burglaries are a crime of opportunity and police want to take away that opportunity.

The most simple fix is locking your car. Harmon said about 80% of the car burglaries happened because the car was never locked.

Police also advise you to hide your valuables in your car, or just take the gun with you inside when you get home.

Another important detail is writing down the serial number of your gun somewhere you can find it. The serial number is usually written on the frame or receiver of the gun and is unique to that specific firearm.

Harmon said some guns are not reported stolen because the owner does not have the serial number.

“It’s hard to track these guns down and to recover them unless they are used in a commission of a crime, the person is arrested and they have the gun on them,” Harmon said.

If your gun is missing or stolen, call your local police as soon as you can. Police will ask for the serial number and a description of your gun.