FOX19 Investigates: Why police are getting their guns stolen

Published: Oct. 30, 2013 at 3:49 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 8, 2013 at 3:16 AM EST
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(FOX19) - Documents FOX19 obtained from the Oxford Police Department shows the officer whose Bushmaster AR-15 was stolen is being suspended for half a day, though he'll be able to use holiday or vacation time so that he'll still be paid. Even before this incident, FOX19 had been tipped-off by a Tri-State officer that weapons were being lost or stolen.

For months, we gathered documents telling the stories of what happened.

In Florence a couple of years ago, a Covington officer was surprised to wake-up at his house to find someone had stolen a shotgun out of his personal car.

"My car has tinted windows and was parked in my driveway," the police report quotes him as saying. He added, "It is unknown if the person who (took) my shotgun was familiar with me being an officer."

In Oxford, home to Miami University, that officer said he had planned to put the AR-15 in the trunk of his unmarked squad car the next morning. But a thief saw it laying on the backseat of the vehicle in his driveway, broke a window, and stole it.

"You don't want to keep one locked away in a car," said Trevor Stein, an assistant manager at Target World, who was surprised to hear officers doing this. "We've had customers who've had firearms taken out of their cars because they'll keep them in like a glove box or something along the center console."

Depending on an officer's situation, he or she may not be able to take a gun inside. But Sgt. Brian Bender, who runs weapons training classes for Cincinnati Police, says his department prefers "a locked container in the vehicle" if that's the case.

Cincinnati Police are not immune to weapon thefts either.

In August of last year, an officer had a handgun and bullets stolen out of her Lexus. Another officer had a Taser stolen out of his squad car. Two other times in 2012, officers had their service weapons and a Taser stolen out of their homes.

FOX19 can document at least one case where a thief stole a Hamilton County sheriff's deputy's gun out of his car. We were on the scene over the summer when the deputy's wife, Janet Slayback, told us someone broke into his trunk.

Stolen were "a police-issued gun, the ammo, the whole gun belt," she said.

The police chiefs of Oxford and Covington as well as Sheriff Jim Neil of Hamilton County would not agree to an interview with FOX19.

Stein, who sells gun safes at Target World, says they are usually the best bet for keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals. He showed us high-end models that sell for thousands of dollars. But a small gun safe might only cost $70, according to what we found online.

An especially good investment for officers with children at home.

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