Police say the single greatest contributor to violent crime in Savannah includes everyone that owns a gun.
You may not be committing the crimes, of course, but when one of those guns get stolen, chances are it will be used to commit a violent crime somewhere in the city.
According to police, 90 percent of the violent crime in Savannah is committed with stolen guns, and most of the time, these thefts are totally preventable.
"If you leave your gun in your car and your car is unlocked, you're contributing to the problem. If you have a gun collection and you don't have it in a gun safe, you're contributing to the problem,” said Maj. Richard Zapal, Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department.
Metro police has had 269 reports of stolen guns so far this year, 269 more crooks are armed and ready to add to the violence plaguing this city.
And when it comes to car break-ins, police say the majority don't involve any actual breaking because so many people are simply leaving their doors unlocked.
"It's a new phenomenon that is going around, the little thieves pass it around on social media. It's called jerking, where they go around jerking on car door handles. If you leave a gun in the car, they will steal it. If you leave your keys in the car, they'll steal the car,” said Maj. Zapal.
A local gun store has seen a number of new customers come in recently, mostly women and senior citizens. They especially encourage these first-time gun owners to invest in a safe, but they say that applies to every gun owner. And even for a long-time gun owner like Earl Shadley, it took a wake-up call of having several of his own guns stolen.
"They're gone. They're sold on the street. At that point in time, I said, 'well, it's after the fact, but I must purchase something to secure my firearms,’” said Shadley, assistant manager for Ortiz Custom Guns.
Police are convinced 90 percent of the violent crime we've seen in the last two months involved stolen guns. And the impact on this community has been frightening.
A woman who nearly became an innocent victim of a recent shooting said she's pretty much in hiding these days.
"I haven't really left my house other than to do things that are super important. If I have to go to work, but I pretty much just hide out in my house with my alarm on all day. I don't even want to let my dog out, but I have to, that's scary for me now,” she said. She wanted to remain anonymous.
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