Roeland Park Police Chief John Morris took to Nextdoor recently to, once again, stress the need for residents to lock their car doors at night after a shotgun was stolen from inside an unlocked vehicle.
Why now? This latest incident took place over the weekend, according to Morris, when a shotgun was stolen out of an unlocked vehicle in the 5100 block of W. 50th Terrace, between Juniper and Briar Streets.
The bigger picture: There have been 19 auto thefts so far in Roeland Park this year, according to data Morris sent the Post.
- Overall, the city has recorded 90 burglaries, including residential, commercial and auto burglaries.
The chief’s message: Morris said he continuously reminds residents about the importance of locking their cars and taking their valuables inside but expressed deeper frustration at this latest incident of an unsecured weapon being stolen.
- Morris said “not securing a weapon is wrong” and that if a person is hurt or killed later by a weapon that had been unsecured and stolen then there is the potential that the original owner could face civil lawsuits.
- Still, leaving a weapon in an unlocked car is not a crime, he stressed, but he said he still takes to Facebook and Nextdoor to warn residents about unlocked vehicles.
- He hopes his reminders to residents about locking cars and securing valuables resonates for everyone’s sake.
Key quote: “We have had several weapons and valuable items taken out of vehicles that could have been avoided if people just used ‘common sense’ about safety,” Morris told the Post via email. “I would rather have my officers on the streets doing other things than taking incident reports for a crime of opportunity. We can’t be everywhere, but I will never waiver on trying to keep our community as safe as possible.”
Car thefts in Roeland Park and beyond
Roeland Park isn’t the only northeast Johnson County city or police department that frequently reminds residents to lock their car doors and keep valuables out of plain sight.
- The Fairway Police Department sent out similar messaging about car thefts as police officers in that city investigated a series of at least three stolen vehicles in early August.
- Chief J.P. Thurlo told the Post at that time that nearly all of the car thefts and burglaries that had occurred in Fairway through the beginning of August were due to unlocked cars, cars with keys in them or cars left in driveways with running engines.
- Prairie Village Police in recent years have gone so far as to do giveaway contests for residents who complete a “9 p.m. routine” of ensuring their car doors are locked.