30 Days to a Safer Neighborhood: Stolen Guns - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

30 Days to a Safer Neighborhood: Stolen Guns

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Of all of the violent crimes in the country, federal statistics show stolen weapons were used in almost of half of them. Recently, guns were even stolen from a police department in West Virginia.

Six people face federal indictments for the theft of several guns from the Stonewood Police Department in Harrison County and police have recovered the weapons.

Experiences like Jerry Braun's are more common, though.

"About 15 years ago my wife and I owned the local corner store in Center Point and sometimes I'd leave my off-duty gun there overnight," said Braun, a former West Virginia State Police trooper. "This particular night I'd left it there and when I came in the next morning I found someone had come in and took it."

From his life in law enforcement, Braun knows how difficult it can be to track down a stolen gun. 

"It could have went anywhere," Braun said of his .38 Smith & Wesson. "They could have thrown it away after they realized they didn't want to get caught with it."

Stolen guns like Braun's sometimes surface later connected to shootings, robberies, or drugs.

"Sometimes the firearms we find in violent crimes aren't even from around here," Harrison County Sheriff Albert Marano said. "They're maybe stolen from another state or other areas."

Law enforcement can track guns using their serial numbers or detailed descriptions through the National Crime Information Center.

"We're able to put that information into a computer database that is nation-wide," Marano said, "and if your firearm turns up in California, Hawaii and they happen to run it then they know it belongs somewhere in West Virginia, maybe Harrison County."

Marano said he took stolen gun reports as a deputy, only to have them turn up hundreds of miles away since he took on the role of sheriff. He recommends gun owners keep detailed records of all of their firearms, in case they are stolen.

Marano also recommends people to be wary of deals on guns that seem too good to be true. If you're in doubt, he said local law enforcement should be able to check a firearm in the database and make sure it's not stolen property.

As for Braun, his .38 is in the system but still missing. No "hits" from the NCIC database, and no clues the gun's location.

"Wish I knew," Braun said. "I'd probably go after it."