SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Area officers say they are taking more firearms off the streets in 2021 than 2020.

Wednesday, a stolen firearm was linked to a case where a six-year-old Kearns girl was shot in the foot last year. The suspect, in that case, is in police custody.

In another case, 57-year-old Linda Nemelka was shot dead in her car in Millcreek last year.

In early July, detectives arrested two people for the murder of a mother of five.

Jessica Nemelka tells ABC4, “having answers is part of its own closure, but it doesn’t change what happened. It doesn’t bring her back, but it does help.”

“The gun that was used in that crime was a stolen firearm,” says Sergeant Melody Cutler with the Unified Police Department.

Both Unified Police and Salt Lake City Police Departments tell ABC4 there is an increase in stolen firearm recoveries.

From January 1 through July 13 in 2020, Salt Lake City Police recovered 21 firearms. In 2021, there were 32 guns recovered, an increase of 11 firearms.

During the same time frame, in 2020, Unified Police recovered 282 firearms. In 2021, officers took 295 firearms off the streets, an increase of 13 guns from the previous year.

“When you look at, we’re into July and we’ve already recovered [nearly] 300 firearms, we are on track to do 600, and that’s a lot of firearms out there we are taking off of criminals,” says Sgt. Cutler.

Police say the most common place to have a firearm stolen is inside your vehicle.

Earlier this week, guns and ammo were stolen from three vehicles during a rash of burglaries in Roy.

Officers across Utah say it’s a common case in our state.

“That’s one of the reasons you constantly hear us saying don’t leave that item in your vehicles,” says the sergeant.

The hardened criminals are not the only ones looking to get a hold of your firearm.

“I think probably one of the most disturbing thing for us, is probably, that some of these are coming off of juveniles,” Sgt. Cutler adds.

Officers say that’s why it’s more important now than ever to secure your guns and have serial numbers handy for police reports if ever taken.