According to one national report, it estimates about 60,000 firearms are stolen annually in crimes outside the home, including vehicle break-ins — otherwise known as “bash-n-dash” when criminals might see a firearm inside a vehicle. Even police aren’t immune to thefts of firearms from vehicles, as the recent riots and looting across America saw police firearms go missing as police cruisers and SWAT vehicles, and LE headquarters, were breached and ransacked.
If you travel with firearms in your vehicle, you could be at risk. There are numerous ways to reduce your risk when you must leave a firearm in a vehicle during your absence.
Be Aware, Around
The first important step in securing firearms stored in vehicles (locked inside or secured to solid points in the vehicle) is to be aware of your surroundings as you place the firearm(s) inside the vehicle. Thugs and thieves are always watching others and looking for an opportunity, as a friend of mine discovered.
He parked his car with an AR rifle on the back seat, along with his range bag with two pistols inside. His car was in the open parking lot of a popular restaurant with cars and customers frequently passing by. It was a bright sunny day as he returned from the shooting range and was meeting friends for lunch. He never considered a break-in, and he had done this numerous times before.
An hour or so later when he came out from dining, his car had been broken into and the firearms were gone. The incident occurred in a popular and safe neighborhood. My friend does not know if someone followed him from the range that morning, or happened to walk by and peer into his vehicle and was brazen enough to break a window and grab the guns and go. His stolen firearms were never recovered.
If you are leaving firearms in a vehicle, secure them in a theft-proof system — and also out of sight. Secure those firearms and then conceal the containers or locking systems so passerbys do not see an opportunity.
Today, gun owners can secure pistols and long guns in vehicle storage systems without taking up much space inside the vehicle, and these sturdy lock boxes or small safes are sturdy and can be attached to the vehicle in numerous ways.
“For construction, always go with steel and no injection molding or wood,” says Jason Larson, sales manager for Tuffy Security Products. “Our storage systems are made in the United States of 16-gauge steel. We also build heavy-duty storage drawers with slides made of sturdy 11-gauge steel.” Larson also says look at hinges when purchasing an in-vehicle safe because those are the points first attacked by thieves with screwdrivers and prybars.
Numerous styles of lock boxes and vehicle safes are designed to be bolted to the vehicle’s floor or other point that offer easy access yet provide great security. The bigger boxes are designed to be secured in the back of SUVs or inside of pickup trucks or inside the trunks of cars. There are also replacement consoles for a wide range of vehicles that look like the original but are strong lock boxes that hold firearms inside.
For quick access, most models of in-vehicle safes are available with finger-press keypads or with locks and keys. The choice is yours. Both offer advantages — and disadvantages — so you must decide. When weighing costs, remember that $500 spent to secure a $1,200 rifle or pistol is money well spent. This seems to be a great investment with each passing day in our nation.
If you want to take the easy way to secure any firearm in any vehicle, buy a sturdy padlock and long cable. Simply slide the cable under a seat post that’s bolted to the vehicle’s body, then pass the cable through the firearm’s action or triggerguard and lock the cable with a sturdy padlock. Hide the firearm under a seat or cover it and the cable with clothing, a towel or other item. This will prevent thieves from seeing, breaking in, grabbing the firearm and running. Simple, affordable and fast to install and operate.
“No wants their gun stolen and potentially used in a crime,” says Bill Brassard with the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Vehicle door locks and glove compartments are vulnerable to entry, whereas a dedicated safe or lock box offers better protection, plus concealment, of your firearm. Investing in one of these devices is worth it.” Sales of vehicle safes are also on the rise per Jason Larsen with Tuffy Security products.
Note also that you should always select a vehicle safe or lock box with some type of protective padding inside. You don’t want your $2,000 1911 pistol sliding around inside a metal box as you drive. For added protection, if the firearm will be stored inside for a long period, consider placing the firearm in a protective sock with added rust inhibitor. There are several sources for these and most gun stores have them for long guns and handguns.
Cover Up Everything
Next, always conceal safes and storage systems inside the vehicle from prying eyes. Always cover the safe or cable and tint your vehicle’s windows when possible — and legal. While many firearms owners like to champion their favorite brand, like Springfield Armory, with decals on vehicle windows, now it’s wiser to remove those firearms-related decals. These tell passersby there is probably a firearm inside — and an opportunity. Unfortunately, criminals can read.
When leaving your firearm in a vehicle, all obstacles you can create to prevent simply grabbing a firearm and running in a bash-n-dash will help you retain your firearm until you return. Thieves don’t generally carry cable cutters or torches, and they don’t want to do long-period work where they can be spotted. If possible, also consider a vehicle alarm system and always park in a well-lit area. Most places that install stereos will install these and you can find great DIY options on line. If you are out and do hear a vehicle alarm, always stop to observe and note anyone running. Take the steps to prevent thefts of firearms from vehicles. It’s well worth the effort!
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