Gun thefts are on the rise. According to a new federal accounting, over the last three years, gun thefts have increased by 48-percent. During the same period, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms (ATF) released that burglaries of federally licensed firearm dealers skyrocketed by 72-percent.

In 2016, a total of 18,394 firearms were reported stolen or missing nationwide. The number of firearms lost by licensed dealers totaled 9,113 according to audit records.

Only 40-percent of stolen guns are recovered each year; however, the ATF’s Operational Intelligence Division chief, Kevin O’Keefe, said that most firearms never leave the regions where they are stolen.

Earlier this year, the ATF developed an automated alert system that notifies licensed gun dealers when robberies, thefts or burglaries occur in their area. They hope to help dealers keep an eye on their inventories, so they take extra security precautions against serial burglary attempts.

In most cases, thieves are gone with guns within a mere 3-1/2 minutes from breaking in.

To help protect your guns, you should invest in a solid gun safe. There are many different types of gun cases, but if you live in an area that is prone to robberies, consider these iron-clad options.

  • In-Wall Gun Safe – Instead of being portable, an in-wall gun safe is installed directly into the wall, which helps keep it stationary and hard for thieves to steal. The downside with having a built-in wall safe is that you can’t move it with you if you sell your home.
  • Hidden Gun Safe – This type of safe is designed so that it doesn’t attract attention. It can be hidden in something very common, such as shelves, mirrors or even picture frames. This allows you to keep your guns hidden in plain sight, but is difficult for thieves to locate.
  • Heavy Duty Gun Safe – Some heavy duty gun safes can weigh more than 1,200 pounds, making them virtually impossible for thieves to move within their average 3-1/2 minute break-in time. These types of safes are pretty expensive simply because they are reinforced to make it difficult to drill into.

There are many other reasons you should own a gun safe, including that they are designed to help protect your guns from damage. You can also add a humidity rod to the safe to help remove extra moisture from the air. Moisture causes your guns to rust, so it’s always good to prevent this type of exposure.

It is also important to note that several states have criminal liability laws on the books for people who are negligent about storing their firearms and do not limit who has access to weapons.

Most importantly, if you own guns, you should know how to operate and shoot your weapons properly. This will require practice shooting targets. If you decide to invest in your own gun targets, opt for steel targets, which give you the best bang for your buck.