- Associated Press - Sunday, November 18, 2018

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police will soon ask gun owners and dealers to keep spent ammunition as a way to help identify stolen weapons following an increase in gun thefts over the past five years.

Wichita Deputy Police Chief Jose Salcido told the Wichita Eagle that the city has seen a spike in firearms thefts from about 400 in 2012 to 1,600 last year. More than 325 of the guns stolen last year “showed up at violent crime scenes in Wichita,” Salcido said.

More guns have been in circulation within the community after a state law passed in 2015 allowing Kansas residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit, according to Salcido. With more guns in circulation, they can be more easily stolen, he said.

“Typically, if somebody steals a firearm, we have no way of tracking that firearm from the theft to the crime,” he said.

The police department is planning to ask gun sellers and buyers to save two fired casings at home as part of the agency’s Save a Cartridge program. If their firearm is stolen, the gun owner or dealer can then turn the casings over to police.

Each gun makes a unique imprint on a fired cartridge, which comes from where the firing pin in the weapon hits the primer, Salcido said.

The distinct imprint can be put into a database and later matched with cartridges recovered from crime scenes. The database can help police establish crime patterns when the same mark shows up on casings at multiple locations. It can also help police track the gun back to when and where it was stolen.

If fingerprints or DNA was retrieved from the gun theft scene, police could use those findings to help identify the criminal shooting the weapon, according to Salcido.

The department’s Save a Cartridge initiative will be funded through a Justice Department innovation grant.

The Wichita Police Department would be the first to use such a program in the country, Salcido said.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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