JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man opened up on Monday about a mistake he made years ago when he left his handgun in his SUV overnight.
The man, who wished to remain anonymous, told News4Jax he recently got his gun back after the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office recovered it during a drug raid.
"I thought it was long gone," he said. "I was just relieved to finally know that it wasn't out there anymore."
The Sheriff’s Office has been pushing for people to participate in the "9 p.m. Routine" of locking car doors at night and taking out any valuables, especially guns. Jacksonville police report 32 guns have been stolen this year from 29 unlocked cars.
In 2018, there were 4,891 reports of vehicle burglaries in Duval County. According to the Sheriff's Office, vehicle doors were unlocked in 2,266 of the cases -- nearly half. In 296 of those cases, a gun was stolen, JSO said.
The man who News4Jax spoke to admitted he made a mistake in 2014 when he left his 9 mm handgun locked in his glove compartment in his SUV overnight. The next morning, it was gone.
"My heart sank in my stomach," he said. "I always considered myself, you know, to be a good gun owner -- safe, always locked up. But (I had) a false sense of security."
He later learned in his Arlington neighborhood, it wasn’t uncommon for people to break into cars.
After nearly five years, JSO sent him a letter last week, informing him officers recovered the gun he never thought he would see again. The man said he was told it was found during a drug raid.
"That was my biggest concern. It wasn't the value. It was the fact that it potentially was in the wrong hands that concerned me the most," he said.
Since the 2014 theft, he has never left a gun in an unattended car.
"Even if I am out and about, I don’t leave them there. Either (they're) on my persons or they're in the safe, the house. I don’t leave them anywhere," the man said. "It was definitely a learning experience -- not a situation I intend to repeat again."
The Sheriff’s Office has been persistent about posting daily reminders on its social media pages about removing any weapons you may have in your car and locking car doors, as well.