ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- Last weekend, the Ector County Sheriff’s Office responded to an aggravated robbery call after two 17-year-olds allegedly robbed a woman at gunpoint in the parking lot of a west Odessa grocery store. Sheriff Mike Griffis said there have been many crimes lately involving armed teens and he’s asking for gun owners to do their part to keep guns out of the hands of teens. 

“There’s been way too many kids in possession of firearms lately. Here in the last couple of years there’s been an influx of vehicle burglaries in which these juveniles…their main goal is to find weapons in those vehicles. We urge everybody, if you carry a weapon in your car, when you get home, take that weapon out,” Griffis said. 

In many cases, guns stolen amid vehicle break-ins have been used in other crimes, such as illegal gun transactions, drug transactions, aggravated robberies, and have even led to serious injuries and shooting deaths. Additionally, some of these stolen firearms have ended up in backpacks on school campuses. 

“If something goes down in one of these schools, we’re gonna go in there and take care of business,” Griffis said. “Those kids in there are my kids, they’re our kids, and we are gonna go in there and take care of them.”

According to a report released earlier this year from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 1,074,022 firearms were reported stolen from 2017-2021. Here are some tips to help keep your firearm secure:

Store Firearms Properly– Store guns unloaded and secured b a trigger lock, biometric lock, gun case, strong box, gun cabinet or gun safe. And remember, vehicles are not intended to act as a gun safe so do not leave your gun unattended in a vehicle.

Lock Up Ammunition– Store ammunition safely locked away separately from firearms.

Restrict Access– Keep visitors from access to stored firearms; this includes family, friends, children, or other visitors.