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Lowcountry police urging people to lock car doors to keep guns out of the wrong hands

Lock cars to prevent stolen valuables (WCIV)

Three dozen guns were stolen from vehicles in downtown Charleston over the past 12 months, according to officials with the City of Charleston Police Department.

In Mount Pleasant, officials said there were at least two break-ins in the Old Village and few off Chuck Dawley Boulevard.

While street crime is rarer in Mount Pleasant, officers don’t want people to get complacent.

“Crime can happen anywhere,” said Inspector Chip Googe with MPPD. “Don’t get lulled into that false sense.”

Googe said the easiest way to fall victim to street crime is by leaving your vehicles unlocked, even right outside your home.

“The majority of our break-ins are to unlocked vehicles,” Googe said. “All you have to do is walk by, lift the handle, and, if it opens, go in and take a look around to see what's there. If you have valuables in plain view, they're going to go to that car anyways. It makes it easier for the criminal to get to it if you leave your car unlocked.”

Items like purses, other valuables, and guns, especially, are ripe for the picking, Googe said.

“Even if it's a locked glove box, it's something that can be opened,” he said. “It's a better idea to take it and lock it in your home. We don't want any weapons on the street and in the hands of criminals. We want it by the people who have them legally. It's just a better idea and a lot safer to have them locked up in your home.”

Googe said police departments across the state and nation like MPPD are starting a new campaign for awareness and a new chore for you at bedtime.

“Going out to your car at 9 p.m. and making sure all your valuables are out, all your weapons are out, all the keys are out, the windows are up, the doors are locked and reduce the chance you can become a victim of a crime,” Googe said.

More than 44,000 guns were stolen from individual gun owners in South Carolina from 2012-2015, according to the Center for American Progress.

The center also lists South Carolina as one of the top ten states with the highest number of guns stolen from both gun stores and private owners.

ABC News 4 requested the number of guns stolen from vehicles in the West Ashley area including all of James Island and Johns Island. We have not heard back from the City of Charleston Police Department.

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