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February 17, 2013

Area gun theft rose 36 percent in 2012

Serial numbers, description crucial in locating weapons

PLATTSBURGH — Reported gun larcenies increased 36 percent in State Police Troop B’s area in 2012.

In terms of total firearms, the number is up 37 over the 141 cases handled in 2011 by all law-enforcement agencies in Troop B’s area, comprising Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence and northern Hamilton counties.

LOCAL BREAKDOWN

In the tri-county area, gun owners in Clinton County were hardest hit, with 66 reported stolen in 2012.

That’s a spike from the 28 firearms cases in 2011.

Essex County followed, with 25 guns reported swiped in 2012, a slight increase from the previous year.

The 13 guns reported stolen in Franklin County last year represents a 50 percent decrease from 2011.

Some local law-enforcement agencies fail to report their gun-theft cases to the State Police, according to Senior Investigator Christopher Keniston, who works in Troop B’s Gun Investigation Unit in Ray Brook. 

While he guesses there could be as much as a 10 percent gap between State Police data and actual reported cases, he said, “I think we’re dealing with fairly accurate information.”

CITY GUN THEFTS

“Last year, we had several reported handguns stolen from either residences or vehicles,” said Plattsburgh City Police Chief Desmond Racicot.

A drug-related arrest in the city eventually led police to a weapon that was stolen from the Plattsburgh area, he said. It was recovered in Brooklyn in November 2012 with the help of New York City Police.

MISSING INFORMATION

In 2012, 73 percent of those reporting long guns stolen were not able to give police a serial number or accurate description of the weapons, Keniston said.

That’s a common issue.

“This makes our job extremely difficult in trying to solve these crimes,” he said.

“What we find is most people don’t have good documentation on any of their property,” Racicot said.

Gun owners should record their firearm’s manufacturer or importer, model name, serial number, type and action, caliber or gauge, date acquired, cost and the purchase location.

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