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Hartford Police chief sends letter to firearm owners amid spike in gun thefts

Suspect's firearm-1

HARTFORD — On Monday, Hartford Police Chief James Rovella sent a letter to all pistol permit holders in Hartford reminding them to safely store their firearms.

According to Hartford Police, the city saw 17 gun thefts in 2015. This year, there were 17 thefts by August, and the number has continued to climb.

“So now, we’ve got roughly 30 guns out on our streets in the city of Hartford that our officers are gonna have to deal with now,” said Deputy Chief Brian Foley.

“It’s nothing about making guns more restrictive,” Foley added. “It has nothing to do with that. It’s just about the safe storage of a firearm.”

Hartford Police recently made two arrests in the drive-by shooting of a 10-year-old girl on Branford Street. Police say the gun used in the crime was stolen from a home in Glastonbury.

“The house gets burglarized, the gun gets taken to our streets, sold and traded on our streets, used in a violent act like that,” said Foley.

In his letter to pistol permit holders, Chief Rovella asked that guns be locked up, either in a lockbox bolted into a car frame, or in a gun safe or cabinet at home.

Hartford Police say guns are often stolen during burglaries, or taken out of unlocked cars’ center consoles or glove compartments.

The department is offering free gun locks to any city resident who comes in with a valid pistol permit.

Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, is on board with Chief Rovella’s message. “We understand the chief’s concerns about wanting gun owners to be responsible and safe with their firearms,” said Wilson.

Wilson said the vast majority of gun owners do responsibly store their firearms and those who do not, need to start. “There should be an element of safety and concern of an individual that owns firearms to make sure that they do not reach the hands of criminals,” said Wilson.

Hartford Police are also hosting a gun buy-back event on December 17.

Here is the full letter Rovella sent:

Dear Connecticut Pistol Permittee,

The Hartford Police Department is committed to providing a safe environment for city residents and visitors. As a pistol permittee, we are asking for your help and support by ensuring that your guns are protected from theft and safely stored. Recently a number of gun owners have had firearms stolen from their cars and residences. The Hartford Police Department offers information and resources on how to prevent theft and ensure safe use of firearms in our community:

1. A gun left in a car – particularly in an unlocked center console or glove compartment, is at high risk of theft. Remove guns from unattended cars to prevent theft. However, if you must leave your gun in the car, take steps that will protect it. Install a gun lockbox that is bolted to the car frame, or at minimum, secure the firearm with a cable lock away from public view.

2. Guns are frequently stolen during residential burglaries. Insure that your firearms are protected while you are not home by safely storing them in a locked gun safe or cabinet. By doing so, you will reduce the chances of your gun being stolen and used in a crime.

3. The brochure; “Your Guide to Firearms and Permits in Connecticut” published by The Connecticut State Police provides valuable information related to legal gun ownership. The brochure and up-to-date information related to firearm ownership and Connecticut gun laws can be accessed at http://www.ct.gov/despp. (See Online Services/Frequently Asked Questions)

4. If you would like to turn in unwanted firearms for a gift card, a gun buyback is scheduled on December 17, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Community Renewal Team, 555 Windsor Street, Hartford, CT or by presenting your pistol permit to an officer, free cable gunlocks will be available to assist you in securing your firearm(s) at the gun buyback and at the front desk of Hartford Police Headquarters, 253 High Street, Hartford, CT.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. Safe storage prevents guns from falling into the hands of criminals who use them for illegal and often tragic purposes. I am confident with your support we can reduce and prevent gun violence in the City of Hartford.

Sincerely,

James C. Rovella
Chief of Police