Sioux Falls Police recover 17 guns stolen outside city limits, then offer stark advice to gun owners
Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said gun owners need to lock their vehicles and report their guns as stolen or missing even in the 'middle of nowhere’
SIOUX FALLS — What started as a search warrant to recover a stolen pair of Apple AirPods turned into a Sioux Falls Police Department seizure of 17 guns that had been stolen from outside city limits, prompting officials to make a public service announcement authorities say applies even in the "middle of nowhere.”
After a victim in southwestern Sioux Falls realized their unlocked vehicle had been entered into on Oct. 14, they reported the burglary to authorities.
"Even if you're out in the middle of nowhere and you don't think it’s an issue, there are people that are specifically looking for unlocked cars, they're looking for guns."
- Sam Clemens, public information officer for the Sioux Falls Police Department
“One of the things that was taken from the vehicle were AirPods. The owner had used the GPS in that to track them down,” said Sam Clemens, public information officer for the Sioux Falls Police Department. “We found out that the stolen AirPods were inside a house in the 200 block of South Summit Avenue.”
On Oct. 14, police executed a search warrant at the home, resulting in the discovery of 17 guns stolen from surrounding counties. Clemens said none of the guns were stolen inside Sioux Falls city limits.
“The one common thread is that it didn't happen within Sioux Falls,” Clemens clarified. “Everything happened outside, within the area around Sioux Falls.”
Six of the recovered guns were reported stolen from Baltic, Renner, Garretson and Humboldt, while 10 others were reported stolen in rural Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha, Moody counties. One gun was stolen in Lyon County, Iowa.
“We’ve talked about this in terms of Sioux Falls and locking your cars and not leaving guns in your cars. It goes for everywhere,” Clemens said at a media briefing on Wednesday, Dec. 8. “Even if you're out in the middle of nowhere and you don't think it’s an issue, there are people that are specifically looking for unlocked cars, they're looking for guns.”
Though Clemens noted that reports of stolen firearms in the city are trending downward, shooting calls have been heading the opposite direction.
“These guns are coming from somewhere — and most likely they're not buying them from legitimate places,” Clemens said. “They’re getting them through the street through kind of an underground black market kind of thing, where somebody is stealing them and then buying and selling.”
Getting gun owners to lock their vehicles isn’t the only problem authorities are facing. Clemens said some of the victims didn’t even know their guns had been stolen.
“Everybody’s different, but if they know they’re missing a gun, it’s probably best to call police and make a report on that,” Clemens said. “Whether it's lost, misplaced or stolen, it's better to have that report out there to basically let us know that there's a gun that's lost or stolen.”
If police are aware of a missing or stolen firearm, Clemens said an arrest can likely be made quicker.
“It doesn't matter if you're in Sioux Falls or Baltic or Humboldt, you have to lock your cars,” Clemens said. “There’s just too many people out there that are looking and taking advantage of people.”
The Sioux Falls Police Department has issued a warrant for 23-year-old Mitchell Luis Arevalo after a grand jury indicted him on 14 counts of possession of a stolen firearm. The warrant carries a $10,000 cash-only bond.
As of Wednesday morning’s press briefing, Arevalo had not been located.