Law enforcement leaders stress securing firearms as more than 3,100 guns reported stolen in San Antonio area last year

Majority of guns were stolen from vehicles

SAN ANTONIO – Law enforcement leaders in Bexar County and federal authorities are asking gun owners to secure their firearms due to the prevalence of gun thefts in the San Antonio area — specifically from vehicles.

During a news conference on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza said 3,146 guns were stolen in San Antonio in 2023.

In Texas’ largest metropolitan areas — San Antonio, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston — more than 25,000 guns were stolen over the last three years.

Law enforcement leaders are asking people to secure their firearms due to gun thefts in the San Antonio area. (Department of Justice)

Esparza hosted the news conference along with SAPD Chief William McManus, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar and District Attorney Joe Gonzales.

They specifically stressed the dangers of leaving guns in vehicles, which McManus said were easy targets.

McManus said guns reported as stolen are often used in violent crimes. Jesse Garcia, a man accused of shooting three San Antonio police officers in an August rampage used a gun that was stolen the night before, McManus said.

“Many of the guns that we recover (that were) used in criminal offenses, we find are stolen,” he said.

McManus added that car burglars specifically target pickup trucks because they believe guns are most likely to be stored inside.

Law enforcement leaders are asking people to secure their firearms due to gun thefts in the San Antonio area. (Department of Justice)

Criminals typically park in an empty parking slot next to the target vehicle, and then disable the horn and commit the crime within seconds, he said.

“That’s how slick they are,” he said.

The district attorney said because these types of crimes happen within seconds, it’s “difficult” to prosecute the suspects.

When they have evidence, Gonzales said, “our prosecution rate is very high but the problem is, as I’ve mentioned before, arresting those individuals is very difficult.”

“We’re committed to successfully prosecuting individuals when we can,” he said.

When asked if he was in favor of enhancing punishment for those prosecuted for burglary crimes, Gonzales said, “Absolutely.”

Gonzales advised gun owners to secure their firearms in a locked safe, either at home or in the vehicle, or carry their guns with them.

If they are unable to take their guns into a certain establishment, they should make prior arrangements, McManus said.

Statistics from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives show about 1.07 million guns were reported stolen in the U.S. from 2017 to 2021. About 96% of them were taken from private citizens.

You can watch the news conference below:

About the Authors:

Rebecca Salinas has worked in digital news for more than 10 years and joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.