CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - At Monday’s city of Conway Public Safety Committee meeting, the group discussed how a small issue has snowballed into a much larger problem.
According to Conway Police Chief Dale Long, 24 guns have been stolen from cars since Jan 1.
“And those were all out of unlocked vehicles," Long said.
The group mulled over ways they could remind the community to lock their doors each and every time they leave the car.
“The fact that we are that freely putting that many pistols back out into the traffic and in the hands of criminals," Long said.
The most recent theft occurred June 3 in the Pecan Grove subdivision in Conway. Two guns were stolen out of an unlocked car, according to Long.
“Basically once a year you can expect it," said Rob Selems, who has lived in Pecan Grove since the community was built in 2013.
Selems’ broken-down van, which sits idle in his driveway, was targeted last year.
“They can have the van to be honest,” he said while laughing. “Probably my mistake leaving [it] unlocked. I walked out to go to work in the morning, found my glove box open, they rummaged through it. Found my registration on the floorboard.”
Selems categorizes the break-ins as a petty crime, but said many neighbors complain of being victimized every year.
“Unfortunately just like anything else there’s always a bad apple that gets in," he said.
Conway officials, however, are taking the break-ins seriously, concerned that more firearms are now in the hands of criminals.
Mayor Barbara Blain Bellamy said she had been victimized on three separate occasions, with thieves stealing her radio system.
“This is one of the hardest crimes for us to catch because it’s done during the nighttime hours," Long said. "If they see a headlight coming, they either step behind a tree, they crouch down behind bushes. They can see us, we can’t see them.”
The city has continued its social media campaign, reminding residents nightly at 9 p.m. to assure their car doors are locked.