Wichita, KS: High number of guns being stolen from cars

Wichita, KS: High number of guns being stolen from cars


A car pursuit followed by a racial slur led to a fatal shooting May 28 in Wichita, according to court documents.

Wichita is on track to see the highest recorded number of guns stolen from vehicles in recent years.

Often, perpetrators simply open a vehicle that was left unlocked.

“We’re not talking about somebody that busts the windows and starts searching through the car hoping to find a firearm. I mean they’re literally just opening the door,” police spokesman Chad Ditch said.

Ditch says 191 guns have been stolen from vehicles so far this year, compared with 160 guns in the same period last year. There have been 164 stolen gun cases from vehicles; some cases involved more than one stolen gun.

Out of the 191 guns, 167 were handguns, 17 were rifles and 7 were shotguns, Ditch said.

“We are up 19 percent this year compared to last year, and 23 percent from the past five for the same time period,” Ditch said.

Here are numbers for the past five years:

2017: 164 stolen guns (143 cases) in first half of year, 289 stolen guns for the year

2018: 164 stolen guns (148 cases) in first half, 308 stolen guns for the year

2019: 141 stolen guns (132 cases) in first half, 253 stolen guns for the year

2020: 150 stolen guns (130 cases) in first half, 319 stolen guns for the year

2021: 160 stolen guns (148 cases) in first half, 301 stolen guns for the year

Three hot spots are responsible for 22 percent of the stolen guns, Ditch said. One is Towne East.

“You have a lot of people going inside shopping and the biggest thing we’re seeing is that people are not securing [locking] their cars. The firearms themselves are also not being stored in a gun safe inside the car,” Ditch said.

Another hot spot is at the intersection of W. Pawnee and Maize, where the neighborhood in that area has reported incidents at homes between 3 am to 6 am

The last hot spot is the Old Town area in downtown Wichita, with reports of smashed vehicle windows and guns stolen between midnight and 5 am

Ditch urged gun owners to conceal guns that are left in cars. “If you know that you’re going to a place where they don’t allow firearms inside, then we need to take the extra steps in order to secure that properly, especially if you’re not putting it in a gun safe,” Ditch said.

Gun owners are encouraged to save two firearm casings next time they go to the shooting range. If their gun is stolen, the owner can submit those casings to authorities as part of a joint law enforcement operation called Operation Save-A-Casing.

The program helps combat firearm related crime through use of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, according to WPD’s website.

The network has a “national database containing digital images of spent bullets and cartridge casings that were found at crime scenes or test-fired from confiscated firearms. This database can be searched for possible matches and if a ‘hit’ occurs, the NIBIN lab sends that information to WPD investigators,” according to the program’s website.

Profile Image of Eduardo Castillo

Eduardo covers crime and breaking news for The Wichita Eagle. His previous work experience includes stints at KWCH 12 Eyewitness News, the local CBS affiliate in Wichita, and as a marketing manager for a local real estate team. In addition to writing, Eduardo also enjoys still photography and cinematography. News tips? email at Edcastillo@wichitaeagle.com or call 316-268-6213.


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