What happens if you walk outside to your car only to discover the window smashed and your handgun missing? It’s an unfortunate scenario, and one of the most common ways we see firearms stolen.
Minor crimes are soaring during the COVID-19 pandemic and as states refuse to arrest low-level criminals, gun owners are left wondering what to do when their gun goes missing.
We want you to be prepared, and today we are going to answer the question, “what do you do if your gun is stolen here in Texas?”
#1: KEEP RECORDS
The first step should happen before a loss or theft ever occurs. The best first step to reducing the fallout a stolen gun can cause is documenting your firearms. In Texas, there is no gun registry, so the government won’t keep track of your guns for you. That’s why you need to keep accurate records. You should document each firearm’s make, model, and serial number. We also recommend keeping a copy of the record of purchase, such as a sales receipt or bill of sale.
Additionally, if you want to go the extra mile, a photograph of each firearm can also be very helpful. You should store an electronic backup of these documents and photos. If your gun is recovered by law enforcement, these documents will make retrieving it from the police as easy as possible.
#2: CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY
If the situation is rapidly unfolding or is an emergency, you should call 911. However, as in our current example, if you discover the theft sometime after the fact and the scene is safe, the next crucial step for protecting yourself after a gun is stolen should be discussing the incident with an attorney. Was the way you stored the firearm a crime? Did you possess the gun in a prohibited location? Were you negligent? Was the firearm a prohibited weapon or illegal for any reason? You must discuss these issues with an attorney before speaking to police. We have seen people repeatedly and inadvertently incriminate themselves when trying to do the right thing and report a gun stolen. Only a licensed attorney can give you legal advice on your particular circumstances and answer those key questions.
But what happens if your stolen gun turns up at a crime scene or in police custody? We talk to folks all the time who have had the ATF show up at their house with more than a few questions about a gun they once owned but later turned up at a suspicious location.
#3: DISCLOSE THE theft to the POLICE
This leads us to the last step: disclosing the theft to the police. If your firearm is stolen, you should report the theft to the police. In Texas, you’re not legally required to report a stolen firearm; however, if you don’t report it and the gun is ever used in a crime, the police will likely have some serious questions. For all they know, the gun never left your possession. Reporting the gun stolen breaks what is commonly referred to as the “chain of custody.” It clearly delineates when you had the gun—and when it left your possession.
We hope you never find yourself in this situation but want you to be prepared. To review: document your firearms; if your gun is stolen it’s important to discuss the incident with an attorney; and finally, disclose the theft to the police. These foundational steps only take a few minutes, but can save you hours, days, and even weeks of headaches down the line.
U.S. LawShield has created a unique add-on that provides extra coverage for this very reason. With Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage an Independent Program Attorney will provide crucial assistance, so you won’t have to deal with the fallout of a stolen gun or identity (affecting your right to carry) on your own. Crooks want to use your gun—not theirs. Don’t wait until it’s too late: add Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage now.
If you have any questions about firearms documentation, call Texas LawShield and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney.
I had a pistol stolen from my truck in Houston in 8/2011. I had done #1 and #3. I have photos of all my firearms from left and right side with close up of the serial number. I called my wife to look it up on the computer and had the info before HPD ever showed up. Imagine my surprise when my FFL friend called in 5/2018 and said the ATF was inquirying about the firearm. Turns out it was recovered in Peoria, Arizona. It was returned to HPD and, after they ran thru their process, they were nice enough to ship to the Comal County Sheriff’s office, saving me a trip to Houston. I was a member of TLS at the time but never considered contacting you.
My reports of firearm theft to the local police were humiliating to me.
Bedford PD would not send out a officer so I had to go to the PD building to give a stolen weapon report and get a case number for my protection. Several weeks later I received a letter to inform me that the detectives had nothing to follow up on. Did they come across like I was the only problem, “yes”.
I will get photos right away..good point..
Thanks for the info.
what if i just can’t find my hand gun, not sure if it is misplaced or stolen?
I live in San Angelo, but my gun was stolen from my household while I was out of town a couple months back, I came back home to a house that was no longer mine and my shotgun was no longer there. How can I go about reporting it if I don’t have the serial number, but only one picture that doesn’t show the serial number?