CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is urging car and gun owners to be more responsible after an increase in guns stolen from cars.

So far in 2019, CMPD reports 516 guns have been stolen during car break-ins, which is up from 435 at the same time last year. According to CMPD, it’s a near 20% increase in the number of firearms stolen from unoccupied cars across the city.

CMPD says 232 of the 516 guns stolen have been from cars left unlocked.

"Please lock your car doors,” said CMPD Central Division Captain Julie Barry. “Lock your car doors all the time anyway, but particularly if you're leaving a firearm in there."

CMPD is urging the public to lock your vehicle, park in well-lit and high populated areas, don’t leave anything valuable in the vehicle, ensure accessories to valuable items are not visible, and record serial numbers of guns that you legally possess.

Barry said she also encourages firearm owners to use a lockbox in your vehicle if you leave a gun in it.

"We need gun owners to be hyper-vigilant, to be more responsible and make sure that you are locking your gun,” Barry said.

The Central Division, which covers uptown Charlotte, is one of the areas that has seen the largest statistical spike in guns being taken from vehicles with a 93% increase.

CMPD reports 52 guns have been taken during the course of a larceny from automobile this year in that division, many of which have been taken in parking decks and open parking lots.

Barry said officers are taking proactive measures in the Central Division, and they have seen an increase in arrests and seizures, vehicle stops, and engagement with the community, but the department still needs the public’s help.

"We still need the gun owner to be extra responsible and lock your car,” Barry said.