Do Police Return Stolen Guns? What to Do

Losing a gun is a scary prospect. I lost a rifle once and had it found and returned with help from law enforcement.

Stolen guns are often returned to the owner by police if recovered. Generally, police will attempt to notify the owner. If no owner comes forward, firearms will be sold, destroyed, or retained for use by the police department. Knowing your gun’s serial number, filing a prompt police report, and checking with police will help you get your stolen gun back

What to do if my gun gets lost or stolen? What to tell police? How to get it back?

* Sorry for the instant heart attack this picture just caused.

What Police Do With Stolen Guns

When a firearm is reported stolen, police will attempt to enter that firearm in a national stolen gun database. The purpose of the database is to identify a gun as stolen by cross-referencing the serial number. According to police officers, most lost or stolen guns can never be positively identified because the owner doesn’t know the serial number.

Due to this, unclaimed property piles up in police departments across the country. Different areas have different laws and policies about what to do with unclaimed firearms. Some are sold at special auctions. A lot of them are destroyed. that’s really sad and wasteful but true. Even in states that allow law enforcement to sell unclaimed guns, they are still often destroyed.

That hideous truth stems from the Democrat belief that guns are better off the street. For some reason, most large city police departments all believe that way. They’d rather pay a metalworking company thousands of dollars to cut guns in half than to raise enough money to replace worn-out gear or better train new recruits.

In my home state of Michigan, law enforcement must relinquish all unclaimed guns as property of the state after 30 days, unless they want to sell them, or keep them for department use. The guns, then the property of the state, will go to the state police who can sell them, keep them for department use, or destroy them. Generally, they are destroyed.

I talked with a well-known lawyer in my area that specializes in guns in police hands. He told me of an instance where a crooked police officer offered a plea deal that included rescinding claims on the defendant’s costly custom pistol which was in police hands, though not related to the crime. The pistol went as “unclaimed”. Later, that officer was seen carrying the same pink custom pistol as “issued by the department for duty-related use”.

Thankfully, crooked officers with compliant superiors are the exception. Generally, police will extend at least a modest effort to return stolen property to the rightful owner. In many areas, it’s better than it used to be, with the exception of major Democrat cities. Why do Democrat leaders hate citizens with guns so much?

It’s a sad truth that most of the guns which are stolen will never be found. And past that, most stolen guns which are recovered by law enforcement will not be returnable to the rightful owner. For the most part, that’s not the fault of the police or a Sherriff’s department. It’s the fault of the owner.

Most people know the make and model of their gun but have no idea of the serial number. without documentation of the serial number from the owner, police have no way of telling if the gun is actually yours. For that matter, you don’t really know either.

If you report a lost or stolen gun to police and give them the make, model, and serial number, you may get it back. without the serial number, an officer cannot put a record of it in the national stolen gun database. That’s where police check for a rightful owner. If there is no record there, that’s usually the end of it.

Sure, it’s possible for them to contact the manufacturer and find out what store the gun was sent to. Gun store records could tell who bought the gun from them, and that may still be the rightful owner. But that would mean a department literally getting many boxes of paperwork to paw through to determine who may or may not be the owner. That’d take more time than it’s worth for law enforcement.

How to Claim a Gun From Police

This is the easy part, provided you can positively identify the gun via make, model, and serial number. Usually, police will call you if they have found a stolen gun belonging to you. If there was an initial police report including the serial number, you stand a darn good chance to get it back.

If the police contact you, they should let you know what department they are with and where you can go to claim your property. There is often a deadline to claim it, so act fast. The gun will be at some police station and you will have to go there yourself with identification, and the serial number of the gun.

Without the serial number, they’re not usually supposed to let someone claim a gun. There are much stricter rules about claiming a gun than claiming other property. When I went to claim my rifle, they only wanted to know the serial number. That’s the only information the local police input when cataloging guns on the computer, so without it, they can’t even look it up in the system.

If you have any questions, you can always call the department that has your gun. They will tell you anything additional you need to do to reclaim your property.

How to Report a Lost or Stolen Gun

To report a lost or stolen gun, call your local law enforcement. Explain what happened, and give them the make, model, and serial number of the gun. Most likely, an officer will be dispatched to your location. Sometimes, they may ask you to come into the office to make your official report.

Remain calm end explain what happened. You may want to follow up with the department after the report, just in case your gun came up and they forgot to notify you. That’s what happened to me. I called the Sherrif’s station, told them I was looking for a gun and gave the serial number. The clerk said it had been logged in last week and I could come to claim it. You bet that’s what I did.

I had called the gun store I purchased it from, and they were able to look up all sales records under my name. They gave me a receipt with the serial number of my rifle on it. Without that number, I’d never have been able to get my gun back. You betcha I’ve got a list of all my firearms and their serial numbers now. I’ve even memorized some!

Do you have a gun and want to know if it may be stolen property? I wrote an article about that here.

Tips to Avoid Losing Your Gun

I was just talking to a family member about this. Most guns are stolen because they are accidentally left out. You put it somewhere where someone else has easy access to it and walked away. The main culprit is cars. People put guns in a car and think that a closed window is enough to keep out thugs.

I know the legalities of carrying a pistol sometimes mean you have to leave it behind in the car. If you have to, get a car gun safe. There are several small safes with a cable attached to them for in-vehicle use. The cable is wrapped around the metal base of a car seat, then locked. if someone wanted to take your gun, they’ll have to work at it for a while.

Crime data tells us that if it takes longer than one minute, it’s probably not getting stolen from a car. my favorite vehicle gun safe is the RAPiD from Hornady. Here is a link to it. No, I don’t get a commission off it, I just believe in the product. There are other options, some cheaper. check out Amazon. Just be sure it has a cable attached to it.

If you are going to carry a pistol, never take it out of the holster, and never remove the holster from your body. Using a public bathroom? Leave your pistol on. Going swimming? Mabey just learn to stay dry. If your pistol is on your person, you have complete control over it. The moment you remove it, you are not in control of it and you suddenly risk forgetting it behind.

The last thing I’ll say is always put your gun in the same spot. If you always put your gun in the same spot every time, you always know where it is and will never forget about it. It gets worse when you are out of your normal routine. Too many times, guns are left behind.

Hunters on an out-of-town hunting trip often leave their guns right next to where they parked their car. They came back from the hunt, piled all their gear next to the vehicle, and left something behind. It’s also common for guns to be left in hotel rooms after checking out.

When you are out of your element or in a new place, your routine is broken and you are more likely to forget something. When you go out, always to a double-take and make absolutely sure you haven’t forgotten something inportant.

Jordan Buck

Jordan Buck is an outdoor writer, a man of faith, and a family man. He grew up hunting, fishing, and trapping. Jordan has taught marksmanship, woodsmanship, and self-defense classes. He has earned black belts in four martial arts and is a certified Krav Maga instructor. He also runs his own Gun Blog and YouTube Channel. Jordan enjoys giving his time and resources to help others and has spent 15 years volunteering in a boy's mentoring program He is and will always be an American Patriot. MOLON LABE

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