Claim: Tires or bumpers of cars parked outside gun stores are marked by gangs to later identify them as potential gun theft opportunities.
[Collected via e-mail, December 2011]
While I was in a Denver gun store today, my car was tagged on the wheel in the parking lot. The gangs do this on wheels or bumpers at gun stores, shooting ranges, gun shows etc. Later when you are parked at a restaurant, hotel, or other location that’s less well guarded or under video surveillance, other gang members spot the marker and break into the car for a quick gun grab. This is so RAMPANT in
[Collected via e-mail, January 2012]
Gun lovers public service announcement: While I was in a Texas gun store today, my car was tagged on the wheel in the parking lot. The gangs do this on wheels or bumpers at gun stores, shooting ranges, gun shows etc. Later when you are parked at a restaurant, hotel, or other location that’s less well guarded or under video surveillance, other gang members spot the marker and break into the car for a quick gun grab. This is so RAMPANT in
Origins: This seemingly helpful heads-up about examining for dots, check marks, or other symbols left on vehicles that were parked in front of gun stores has been circulating on the Internet since December 2011. The warning, which variously claims the tagging happened to a vehicle parked outside a Denver gun store or to one in Texas, asserts gangs of thieves use such identifiers to later single out cars for
easily turned into cash on the black market. (The presumption, of course, being that breaking into such potential treasure troves while they are still lodged in front of gun shops would be foolhardy, one somewhat supported by an incident from 1990 in which the
No news stories from either Texas or Denver support the claim of marks having been discovered on vehicles left parked in such locations or of gun thefts from vehicles subsequently discovered to bear such identifiers. That, plus the knowledge that it would be very difficult to subsequently recognize a small mark or decal on a car’s bumper or tire leads to the conclusion that the tale is naught but invention. Thieves — even organized gangs of thieves — look to gain the most for the least effort. If guns are their target and they’ve concluded folks who park in front of gun shops are the ones most likely to carry such weapons in their vehicles, a far more certain method of subsequently locating those cars is to follow them as they leave the store.
A number of the e-mailed warnings include this addendum about weapons thefts from vehicles parked at shooting competitions:
I don’t know how widespread this is becoming, but the info regarding the NSCA Nationals in Some crews were working the parking lot at the Nationals itself. BTW I shot with a young man who was trying out a new gun at the Nationals. He and his father lost all their guns and equipment while making a quick stop for lunch at a BBQ place in Corpus Christi the month before.
This next comment from a Gun Site instructor:
I don’t know how widespread this is becoming, but the info regarding the NSCA Nationals in
Some crews were working the parking lot at the Nationals itself.
BTW I shot with a young man who was trying out a new gun at the Nationals. He and his father lost all their guns and equipment while making a quick stop for lunch at a BBQ place in Corpus Christi the month before.
The National Skeet Shooting Association/National Sporting Clays Association states the claims made above are false. To summarize its statement on the matter (the full text of which can be found here), while gun thefts from vehicles are an ongoing problem everywhere in the nation, there’s no epidemic of such purloinments from vehicles at gun clubs or from those of traveling shooters at restaurants or other businesses. Moreover, at a shoot in June 2011, that body investigated reports of marked vehicles only to discover “all the questionable marks reported to us were left there by manufacturers, tire services, or rental car companies. In fact, most marks were so worn or well covered that they could not have occurred in the parking lot.”
Referring to the claim regarding a police chief issuing a warning to
That governing body points out the localization of the rumor from an unspecified national event to its own national championship as the tale spread in cyberspace. It also puts paid to the notion that gun thefts were rampant at the (then) most recent NSCA National Championship (held in October 2011 at the National Shooting Complex in
In some online discussions, the phrase “national event” has morphed into “National Championship” with implications that gun theft was a problem during that event. To be clear, in 2011, we had no reports of gun theft at the NSCA National Championship, the largest shooting event held annually at the National Shooting Complex. In previous years, we did experience some gun thefts during the National Championship, and we responded by implementing a number of procedures to eliminate as much risk as possible. We have
The National Rifle Association (NRA) concurs with the NSC’s debunking.
Barbara “gunned down” Mikkelson
Last updated: 24 March 2013
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