APEX, NC (WTVD) -- When thieves break into cars most of the time they don't break in at all.
Several local police agencies report that 90 percent or more of thefts from cars are from unlocked cars.
In the Wake County town of Apex, police have been frustrated in their efforts to get people to simply push a button to lock their cars.
But recently they've noticed a more disturbing trend than the increase in thefts from cars, the theft of guns from cars.
"In the last five weeks, we've had five guns stolen from vehicles," Apex Police Capt.Ann Stephens told ABC11.
She added, "We've had 10 stolen this year and all but two were from unlocked vehicles."
The guns taken from locked vehicles were in the Cameron Park subdivision.
Earlier this month on the same night, someone pried open the door of a locked car outside one house because the thief could see a gun safe inside, according to police.
He took the safe and the 9 mm pistol inside.
A few blocks away, he smashed the window of a pickup because there were valuables in plain sight.
He not only got two laptops, a hard drive, and a cell phone but also a .40 caliber pistol.
The other eight handguns stolen this year were taken from unlocked cars, and sometimes they weren't hard to find.
"People are leaving guns in plain sight," Stephens said.
She offered tips about where not to leave firearms.
"Not in open console. Not in a door pocket. Not laying in the floorboard. Not laying on the back seat. Put it somewhere where it is secured and out of view of anybody who walks by your car," she said.
Stephens said legitimate gun owners aren't always responsible gun owners.
"Responsible gun owners secure their weapon so that they cannot be gotten by another person. So if you have to leave it in your vehicle, lock it in the glove box, put it in a gun safe and secure that gun safe in the trunk of your vehicle, somewhere that it cannot be seen readily. But we would always recommend that you take it inside your home and secure it in a safe in your home," she said.
Stephens said she believes most people buy handguns to thwart crimes.
But the irony of making it easy to steal one of those guns is that are contributing to the crime rate.
"There's always a risk that that criminal is going to use that gun in some other crime. And our concern is not only that it's used in another crime but somebody could get hurt. It could be a citizen. It could be another law enforcement officer," Stephens said.