DENVER (KDVR) — Gun theft is on the rise in Denver, with criminals targeting cars and trucks where some owners may be storing their weapons.

The Denver Police Department said 768 guns were stolen from cars in 2022.

Spokesperson Jay Casillas said whenever a firearm is left in a vehicle, the chances of it being stolen skyrocket. Criminals are looking to steal guns with one thing in mind.

“They’re going to use it to rob someone or to commit other serious crimes,” Casillas said.

Denver Police is currently investigating a case where 16 rifles, shotguns and handguns were stolen from inside a pickup truck wrapped with advertising that said, “We Buy Guns.”

The guns were left unsecured and in the vehicle’s back seat. The truck was parked at a hotel.

“All they have to do is break the window. Even if you think you’re hiding it, they’re going to find it, whether it’s in the center console or in the glovebox,” Casillas said.

Gun thefts from vehicles on the rise

Denver Police said 261 firearms were reported stolen from cars and trucks between Jan. 1-May 11, up from 245 stolen during the same time period in 2022.

Firearms expert Nick Fennelly, of The Shootist Gun Range and Training Center, said responsible gun ownership involves keeping firearms in a secure location when not in use.

“The biggest (concern) I have about guns is that they don’t get into the wrong hands,” Fennelly said.

Fennelly showed FOX31 a range of approved safety accessories sold at the facility, including cable locks and trigger guards, as well as gun safes.

“If your gun is not on your person for you to be carrying for protection, it should be definitely unloaded and locked,” Fennelly said.

Denver Police occasionally offers free gun locks. Police advise that in addition to removing any firearms from vehicles, all personal valuables should be removed. Vehicles should be locked and parked in well-lit areas.