More than 2,400 lost or stolen firearms were seized by Chicago police between 2012 and 2016. Many of those weapons were involved in the commission of other crimes, helping fuel a wave of violence that has roiled Chicago and produced national headlines.
More than 2,400 lost or stolen firearms were seized by Chicago police between 2012 and 2016, report NBC5 Chicago and The Trace. Many of those weapons were involved in the commission of other crimes, helping fuel a wave of violence that has roiled Chicago and produced national headlines. The analysis is based on hundreds of thousands of gun theft records collected by The Trace, NBC 5 Chicago and a dozen other local NBC TV stations. The analysis also drew on more than five million lost, stolen, and recovered reports lodged with the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Chicago police pick up about 480 stolen guns each year. Meanwhile, thousands of guns stolen in Illinois and surrounding states remain unaccounted for.
In 2016, Chicago recorded 762 homicides, the city’s deadliest year in nearly two decades. Gun thefts also surged to record levels, with 4,745 guns reported stolen in Illinois that same year, the highest number since at least 2005. Nationally, gun theft has nearly doubled during the same period, reaching more than 238,000 stolen guns in 2016. The tally of stolen guns is almost certainly an undercount. At least some gun thefts and losses are never reported to police, and even when they are, the victims often do not know the serial numbers on their guns. Without a serial number, a stolen gun cannot be entered into NCIC, harming efforts to link it to a crime. “Gun theft is a huge problem in the United States, but we don’t know the entire scope of it,” said Mark Jones, a former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent who directs the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence in Chicago. Seventy-one percent — nearly 1,800 — of the stolen guns recovered in Chicago between 2012 and 2016 were pilfered outside the city limits, from as far away as North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Utah.