Ashland Police Chief Lyn Woolford said Monday that thefts from multiple cars resulted in three handguns being stolen.

“So now we have more weapons on the street which could be in the wrong hands,” Woolford said.

The thefts came after midnight early Saturday morning when multiple residents reported property had been stolen from their cars.

Residents in Sunset Meadows, West Oaks and Setters Knoll reported items stolen from unlocked cars. Woolford said two of the firearms were stolen from unlocked Ashland cars, a third from an unlocked vehicle on Rt. Y east of Ashland.

“It seems like an organized effort,” Woolford said, dissuading the idea it was teen pranksters. “We recovered a purse, a backpack and a wallet, and besides the firearms, there was some cash stolen.”

A total of six homes in Ashland filed reports.

Woolford noted that the Boone County Sheriff’s Department also reported another handgun stolen from an unlocked vehicle north of Columbia.

“This tells me that there are all sorts of guns in vehicles,” Woolford said, “and it is concerning to me that we are leaving guns in vehicles – and leaving those vehicles unlocked. It’s a potentially deadly situation.”

A constant law enforcement concern is not only for the firearms being stolen, but neighborhood children playing outside who might come across a deadly weapon where it is left unsecured.

Woolford was hesitant to cast blame on only the firearms owners – the weapons were stolen – and he did not want to be accused of “victim blaming.” However, he did want to emphasize the responsibility of gun owners and suggested a simple habit for all property owners each evening.

“It only takes a second for someone to ask their spouse or partner, ‘Is everything locked up for the night?'” Woolford said.

By Bruce Wallace