Gun thefts in the state police Troop B region rose by about a third last year, but where theyre being stolen from has shifted.
State police said last month that 141 guns were reported stolen in 2012, compared with 104 in 2011, in St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Essex and northern Hamilton counties.
Senior Investigator Christopher J. Keniston of the state police gun investigation unit said that only 25 of those reported stolen in 2011 were recovered and that he believes that percentage will hold steady for 2012.
Thefts dropped from 44 to 32 in St. Lawrence County, from 26 to 13 in Franklin County and from 11 to five in northern Hamilton County. They rose in Clinton County, from 13 to 66, and Essex County, from 10 to 25.
We dont know any reason why numbers have gone up in some counties and down in others, Investigator Daniel Howard said, but he noted the numbers rise and fall in cycles. He said he is unsure whether there is a link between the 400 percent rise in reported gun thefts and the roughly half-dozen meth lab busts that took place in Clinton County in 2012.
Mr. Keniston said a common hurdle police encounter when tracking stolen guns is many owners dont keep accurate records, especially in the case of long guns that dont require registration. A state police news release said 73 percent of long guns reported stolen in 2012 did not include an accurate description and serial number.
It makes our job extremely difficult, Mr. Keniston said.
He suggested that gun owners keep track of their firearms, including writing down the manufacturer, model, serial number and gauge or caliber. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offers documents for owners to maintain such data for their own records. It can be printed out from http://188.8.131.52/publications/download/p/atf-p-3312-8.pdf.
Gun owners also can take steps to thwart thieves, including keeping their guns locked up, Mr. Keniston said. Some law enforcement agencies will provide trigger locks.
Mr. Keniston also said gun owners should not post pictures of themselves with their arsenal, especially on sites such as Facebook. Dont advertise a significant gun collection, he said. The pictures go up and, lo and behold, two months later (the guns) are stolen.