NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A new report tracking the increase of vehicle gun thefts across the country shows the Volunteer State ranks number one when it comes to this crime nationwide.

The new study conducted by Everytown Research analyzed FBI crime data spanning from 2011 to 2020 across 38 states in the U.S. that collectively cover 49 million people. Analysis revealed Tennessee saw the most vehicle gun thefts throughout that period with the crime being especially high in the Memphis and Chattanooga areas. 

Cities with the highest rates of gun thefts from vehicles in TN per 100,000 people: 

  1. Memphis – 193.6
  1. Chattanooga- 193.1  
  1. Nashville- 119.6  

Leanne Hewlett, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action, said it is going to take responsible gun ownership to combat this rise in gun thefts in Tennessee. 

“I would just say that it’s imperative that gun owners are safe with their guns. These are tools that we are allowed to own. However, these are the most dangerous tool that you can own,” said Hewlett, “So, one mistake, one accident or slip up could mean life or death for someone and so when you own a gun it’s just imperative that you are as safe as possible and as cautious as possible with it.” 

According to Everytown Research, at least one gun is stolen from a car every 15 minutes. Data released by the Metro Nashville Police Department shows more than 70% of all guns reported stolen in 2022 (810) were taken from vehicles. In fact, just last week, MNPD says 29 guns were stolen from vehicles in Nashville alone.

The department says that guns stolen from vehicles are often routinely involved in criminal activities that include carjackings and robberies. Hewlett says Tennesseans should get into the routine of locking their vehicle in order to avoid weapons getting into the wrong hands.

“I think sometimes we all have a false sense of security in our own homes, neighborhoods and vehicles. While we’d like to think that we’ll never have someone break into our car or in our neighborhood that’s just not the case,” said Hewlett, “It only takes one time leaving your car unlocked for someone to get in.”

Law enforcement strongly encourages Tennesseans to lock their automobile doors, secure any valuables -especially guns- and remove the keys.