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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Vehicle thefts are skyrocketing in Middle Tennessee and police have issued repeated pleas for the public to lock their cars and take the keys with them.

In Nashville, Metro police report 320 guns have been stolen from vehicles so far in 2022. Police said 70 percent of guns reported stolen this year have been taken from vehicles.

“It seems awfully high, like a trend or something,” Middle Tennessee resident Sue Kallal said.

In addition to stealing guns, criminals are also taking off with cars. According to Metro police, more than half of cars stolen were easy targets because the keys were left inside or easily available.

“I think people are responsible for locking their cars and I think everyone has to have a personal responsibility,” Sue Kallal said.

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It also costs taxpayers when police have to respond to auto thefts and break-ins.

The Rand Corporation broke down the average cost for police to respond to various crimes in each state.

In Tennessee, each motor vehicle theft costs the state an average of $688 for law enforcement to respond. In addition, each case cost the state an average of $203 in court and legal fees.

“I think with police officers, they’ve got other things that they should be focused on and not worrying about break-ins,” Sue’s husband, John Kallal said.

John and Sue Kallal said they were surprised to learn how many guns have been stolen from cars locally and the cost for law enforcement to respond. They said they believe these crimes should be easily preventable.

“So I think people should be able to lock their vehicles, even in their apartment buildings or their homes and wherever they’re out. Just to make sure their vehicle’s locked. It’s a simple protection to have,” John Kallal said.

Metro police remind drivers to “Park Smart” by locking your car, taking your keys with you, and making sure your valuables are secure.

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