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Law enforcement agencies throughout the region say car gun thefts are a growing problem.

COURTESY PHOTO: GRESHAM POLICE DEPARTMENT - A gun stolen from a car recovered by Gresham police.Police from all over the Portland metropolitan area say criminals are stealing guns from legal gun owners. But what people may not realize is that a lot of legal guns in the area are getting stolen from unattended cars, which is becoming a major problem, according to police.

Gresham police chased down and arrested three alleged thieves on Monday and one of them had a gun that was stolen from a car in Gladstone last year.

"That tells me that in our metro area, things are transported very easily in cars, on the MAX. You know, in backpacks they're taken everywhere to commit who knows what kind of crimes," said Gresham police officer Adam Baker. "People think that just because they lock their car, that everything's secure."

With violent crime on the rise, police throughout the area are telling legal gun owners that leaving a firearm in a car is a dangerous way for guns to end up in the wrong hands. Portland police say a resident found a fully loaded handgun in the street in the Pearl District a few months ago — the gun was stolen from a vehicle in Washington.

"Many times when we see these crimes happening, they're happening with guns that have been stolen," said Aaron Schmautz, president of the Portland Police Association. "If you're going to be transporting it somewhere, you (need to) have a safe way of getting it to and from."

The owner of Tracker Safe in Vancouver says their firearm safes can be bolted to cars and they range from $30 to $500. They can be high-tech, featuring fingerprints and passcodes, or just feature a lock and key.

"A couple hundred bucks is a small price to pay to keep your firearm safe and make sure you're legal and everything like that too," said Tracker Safe owner Luke Boyer.

Vancouver police say that nearly half of reported firearm thefts in Vancouver, Washington, are from car prowls and car theft.

"I would never ever suggest to anyone that they should leave a firearm in a car unattended," Schmautz said.

Police say safes for cars are good for travel, but always suggest if you have a gun to never leave it in a parked car.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.

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