The Metropolitan Police Department is tripling the reward for tips that lead to the recovery of ghost guns and the arrest of people with those guns, Chief Robert Contee announced Monday.
The news comes after a recent NBC4 investigation found the presence of ghost guns in the city has risen exponentially.
Many shootings involve ghost guns, which are homemade weapons crafted from kits bought on the internet. They are impossible to trace due to a lack of a serial number. The District banned ghost guns in February 2020, but authorities have already recovered 313 ghost guns this year, with another month and a half to go.
This has been the deadliest year in the District since 2016, with 199 murders reported by authorities so far.
In D.C., many illegal guns are used by multiple people in multiple crimes.
“We know that 25% of all firearms and shell casings recovered in the District are ballistically, linked to other shootings," said Charlie Patterson, special agent-in-charge at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "That includes homicides and serious assaults.”
Over the past two years, D.C. police have made more than 60 arrests for illegal guns resulting from tips and have paid out almost $80,000 in rewards. Almost 280 ghost gun arrests have been made this year, 100 of which were teenagers.
While the current reward offered by D.C. police for helpful ghost gun tips is $2,500, authorities are increasing the reward to $7,500.
“We won’t allow people to continue to endanger the lives of our children and terrorize our communities,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
Contee also had a word of warning ahead of the holiday season about “porch pirates,” who drive a spike in package thefts from the front porch or steps during this time of year.
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“We have bad guys who go Christmas shopping, basically, going up and down the streets in some communities and seeing packages that have been left out, sometimes for days,” Contee said.
Contee urged people to help neighbors by bringing in packages they see and to have outdoor security cameras installed, a safety measure for which the District government reimburses homeowners.
He also said customers can put special instructions in the delivery notes about safe places to leave packages.