Downtown valet lots targeted by thieves; more than a dozen guns stolen from valeted cars

Posted at 4:07 PM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 19:18:45-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nearly 400 guns have been stolen from the cars of Nashvillians this year, many were left unlocked, and some were left in the hands of valet drivers.

Within 2019, 52 guns have been stolen from cars in the Central Precinct of Nashville, and of those 52, 14 have been stolen from cars that have been valeted.

While police have arrested valet drivers in the past, they believe the main reason for these thefts is that when cars are valeted, they're not always locked.

“People use valet services all the time. You pull up, you hop out, you go in a place, you feel like your car is going to be secure while it’s in the care of another individual," Commander Gordon Howey said. “Often times, I don’t believe that the valet companies are securing the car, because they’re dealing with a lot of business, high turnover, they’re just trying to get a car parked, get to the next one.”

A thief can easily find their way into valet parking lots and try all of the doors on the cars parked there. If they find any unlocked, they'll steal any valuables inside, including guns.

“Going into a parking garage that has 100 or 200 cars parked in – so you just start going around pulling on door handles, you’re gonna get something," Howey said. “It’s like going to a stocked pond to fish. There’s a lot of opportunity there – chances are, you’re going to catch a fish.”

Cars could be left unlocked due to busy valet drivers running back and forth to get more cars, or they may simply forget. Regardless, police say it's happening, and it's something you need to be aware of if you plan to park using a valet service.

"It's just one of those things. The sheer number of people that come downtown, the sheer number of people that are visiting areas that have the valet parking; even at some of the hotels we've had this happen. People will be traveling, leave the gun in the car. Think it's gonna be in a secure parking garage, people do sneak in, start going through and pulling on door handles," said Commander Gordon Howey.

Police say if you valet, you should make sure there is nothing in the car that you wouldn't want stolen, because it's possible your door may be unlocked while it's sitting in a valet lot.