East Nashville police are working to educate the public and start a conversation around car burglaries in an attempt to cut down on the growing crime and keep guns from getting in the hands of criminals.
On a flier that will be mailed out to certain neighborhoods and given out during traffic stops, police plea, "Stop arming criminals in our neighborhoods."
The flier goes on to say that more than 500 vehicles have been burglarized in East Nashville in 2018, with 72 percent of the vehicles showing no evidence of forced entry.
"Criminals target our neighborhoods over and over because it is easy," the flier reads.
One of the stand-out statistics is that more than 40 firearms were stolen from vehicles.
"How do you think criminals will use these guns in our community?" The flier asks, adding, "Don't make our neighborhoods inviting to criminal activity! Always lock your car, remove all valuables, including any firearms!"
The flier was crafted by East Precinct commander David Imhof and Sergeant Mike Fisher.
"We tried to make the wording where somebody doesn't look at it and say, 'this is junk mail,'" Imhof explained following a crime prevention meeting on Thursday, adding that he hopes it starts a conversation.
While many car burglaries showed no signs of forced entry, the other 28 percent did have forced entry, but in most of those cases, it was because valuables were visible in the car.
"They're out, they're in the open, they're in plain view," Imhof said. "We're talking about laptops, cell phones, purses, wallets, cash."
The majority of car break-ins have happened in the Five Points, Historic Edgefield, and Shelby Hills neighborhoods, so police plan to mail the fliers out to residents of those areas, as well as giving them out following traffic stops.
In East Nashville, police make an average of 600 traffic stops a week, and 85 percent of those stops result in a warning.
Imhof said the traffic stops are used as an education event rather than just giving out tickets, and he hopes that by handing these pamphlets straight to car owners that many of them will follow the suggestion and remove their valuables before locking their cars.