Police say North Country gun thefts rose in 2012

RAY BROOK – The theft of handguns and long guns in parts of the North Country increased by more than 30 percent last year, according to a recent report by the New York State Police Troop B Gun Investigation Unit.

State police said in a press release that 141 guns were stolen in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence and northern Hamilton counties in 2012. Most of those guns were stolen from private residences during the summer and fall months. A small quantity was stolen from motor vehicles during hunting season.

Police said the number of guns stolen in 2012 represents a 36 percent increase over 2011, when 104 guns were reported stolen in the area covered by Troop B. Franklin County saw a 50 percent decrease in the amount of guns stolen, while Essex County experienced a slight increase. Hamilton County remained about the same as years past, with five guns reported stolen.

“The theft of firearms is a significant concern for law enforcement and for the general public,” the release said. “Along with the increase in stolen guns, police are concerned about the inaccurate descriptions and lack of serial numbers for most long guns reported stolen. In 2012, 73 percent of the long guns reported stolen did not include an accurate description and serial number. Without an accurate identification of these guns, law enforcement officials face considerable obstacles in investigating these thefts and readily identifying stolen guns when they are recovered.”

Police urged gun owners to protect their collections and to keep accurate and reliable records of their firearms.

“This includes recording the make, model, caliber and serial number of every gun in their possession and immediately providing this information to police should any gun be lost or stolen,” the release read. “For this reason, a gun inventory record should be stored in a secure location separate from the firearms.”