Rising Gun Thefts in Tampa Area: Concerns Over Criminal Sales


Reports of stolen guns have increased since three years ago, with over 1,500 stolen so far this year, and police believe that far too often, those weapons are sold to criminals who cannot legally purchase one.

One of the two firearms discovered at the scene of the Ybor City mass shooting in October, according to police, was stolen. Investigators have not revealed how the stolen pistol was used in the tragedy that killed two people and injured more than a dozen others, but suspects frequently utilize stolen firearms.

Major Eric DeFelice of the Tampa Police Department reports that burglars frequently search unlocked vehicles for firearms, discovering them in consoles and glove compartments before reselling them to other criminals.

DeFelice stated, “Thieves are specifically targeting firearms, rummaging through vehicles, and leaving other valuables in plain view.”

Over the past three years, On Your Side has obtained firearm data from law enforcement agencies throughout the Tampa Bay area.

The region lost a total of 1,515 firearms stolen by the start of November, which equates to an average of 151 firearms per month. This is a marginal increase from 2021 when 1,754 firearms were pilfered at an average rate of 146 per month.

DeFelice stated that he does not object to the use of a seized firearm in criminal activity.

“Receivers also steal them intending to sell them,” he added, “since criminals rarely have access to firearms.” “How do they obtain it, then?” “They accomplish it in this manner.”

Gun proprietors can aid in the prevention of this crime by concealing and better securing their weapons.

Although there was a decline in the overall number of stolen items in Tampa this year, 327 items were nonetheless taken.

“327 is significantly excessive. “Everything would be zero in an ideal world,” DeFelice stated. “That may never occur, but it is preferable to go as low as possible.” From your vehicle, we must make it as difficult as possible for criminals and those responsible to use these firearms.”

Tampa police provide owners with complimentary gun locks. Locks are available for complimentary pickup at all TPD district offices in conjunction with the Project Locked and Unloaded initiative.

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