Is It too Easy to Steal an AR from a Police Cruiser?

Part of the mental disorder of the gun grabbers in our nation is the constantly reinforced idea that if we make guns illegal, criminals can’t get them. All we need to do ban scary black rifles and “high-capacity” magazines, then close that dirty “gun show loophole,” and we can live in a crime-free metropolis. Just like London and Paris.

Yeah, right. Any sane person knows that criminals get their guns via illegal channels.  Whether it be a straw purchaser, a seller on the black market, a fellow thug or a hapless victim, bad guys break existing laws to obtain firearms. The notion that this background check law or that rifle ban will somehow stop them is laughable.

See Also: Violent Criminals Don’t Get Their Guns From Gun Stores, Chicago Inmates Confess

Recently, there’s been some astute readers chattering about rifles being stolen from an unlikely source, and it’s the subject of this week’s column. Let’s say, for a moment, that all the rifles in citizens’ hands disappeared today. What would be the easiest way for some hoodrat to get a “scary rifle,” not only with all the features Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) hates but with a giggle switch and a hi-cap mag to boot? I have that answer for you.

This design allows one to access the rifle to disassemble it.

Most police departments in the modern era have a rifle in the front seat, secured in a rack. And I am not calling that a bad idea. You might not like the militarization of police departments, but they need that hardware. The world is getting more dangerous by the second, and terrorists, especially in this country, are bringing rifles to the party. Police cannot afford to be outgunned or we are going to end up with more bloodbaths on our hands (Remember the Battle of North Hollywood?). The problem is, one company is by far the market leader in these secured racks and their design… is less than ideal.

We bought one this week to see how easy it was to defeat. With a simple brute force attack, it took me 39 seconds. With 10 cents worth of tools, it took 12 seconds. Not good.

This other design makes it more difficult for one to disassemble the rifle.

If you work for a police department or care enough about your local force to scream at the Mayor, I encourage you to watch the video. Our guys deserve better than this. They need rifles, and they need them accessible, and they don’t need to worry about losing them every time they stop for a call that doesn’t require their use. In our free market system, better options exist.

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • JR August 28, 2017, 10:23 am

    Looks all too easy but the Video doesn’t show it in a confined car. What about the butt plate that holds the bottom of the rifle? Not in video did anybody think about the roof of the car? You can’t pull the gun up that high
    Anything can de stolen and there are easier ways to get the gun out but the video is no way realistic

  • L Lee August 21, 2017, 5:52 pm

    Thanks Clay. What’s next on your agenda? Let me suggest a video recorded from inside a van showing how to zig-zag the vehicle through a city park on Sunday afternoon. That would be at the same personal level of integrity on your part as discussing in depth how to steal an AR-15 out of a Patrol Vehicle.
    On behalf of others and myself, thanks.

    • Austin August 22, 2017, 6:33 pm

      Excuse me…but that’s a completely inappropriate response. If there is a vulnerability, it’s best to get it out in the open. Showing what works, and in this case, what does not work…is not a bad thing. It isn’t like criminals are going to end mass break into every police cruiser they encounter solely based on this article. That’s plainly ludicrous.

  • Ryan August 21, 2017, 1:00 pm

    My patrol rifle and shotgun are mounted between the driver and passenger seats vertically. The locks are electronic, the vehicle has to be running in order for the locks to be engaged.
    I disagree with having them in the trunk as I can unlock and dismount either long gun while en route to a call if the need arises.
    As for criminals stealing from patrol cars, locks are only a deterrent. If someone really wants something they will take it. The same can be said for the 700lb gun safe in my bedroom.

  • Art August 19, 2017, 8:21 pm

    On the handcuff style lock (won’t mention the manufacturer name) could you please explain if the key type was #CA, #H, #2, or #3?

  • Russ H August 19, 2017, 2:14 am

    LOL. We had to store ours in the trunk (with our shotgun) for years. Then we finally got long gun locks up front. I don\’t know where those came from in your tests but the ones we had were invincible unless you had a blowtorch, removed the floorboard of the car and/or cut the gun into pieces. Our guys from SWAT really had problems with getting their cars stolen for the weapons – usually a Tahoe or something. They had all sorts of \”devices\” installed to track the vehicle, loudly and silently alert the owner someone was in it and so on. How fast can you drag a Tahoe onto a flatbed and get officers with tracking devices in the area? More often than not, the bad guys got away with it. Pretty embarrassing.

  • Scott Loddesol August 18, 2017, 9:34 pm

    Guess it shows my age, when I was younger cop cars were never locked. I graduated high school in 1974, granted relatively small town, Wasn’t till I was working that the son of one of my co workers bragged about stealing the radio out of a cop car. Flash forward years later when one of my idiot kids got busted with friends drinking behind the old cemetery, When I showed up apparently the only parent that cared enough to show up, I was asked by one of the officers if I would please make sure everybody left because the other patrol car in town required help. One of my kid’s friends was asking who ratted them out, and I told him either the cops had gotten alot smarter then when I was their age or they were a lot dumber and I knew the cops and they had partied there when they were their age. but not one of them would hesitate taking something from a cop car. Society changes

  • Pantexan August 18, 2017, 8:33 pm

    News stories come up periodically. FBI agent had a subgun, magazines, and ballistic vest stolen from his vehicle. Details withheld because of on going investigation. California DOJ loses 944 weapons, this is SOP for CA. TSA loses weapons all the time.
    Weapons are lost/stolen from LEO agencies every day. These same LEO agencies attempt to hide or cover up thes facts to protect their image.

  • Chuck in Texas August 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    After watching the video – few minor items come to light
    1. Operating space within a squad
    2. Position of the locking device
    3. Knowledge of how to disassemble a fire arm
    4. Have yet to see an AR inside a squad – generally would be secured in the trunk.
    5. What is the normal operating procedure when an office leaves a vehicle unattended. Is the vehicle locked?
    Given the above and the average intelligence of some of the criminals I have had the fun of dealing with. I have very little doubt that a long arm locked in any device inside a squad is at serious risk.
    Otherwise very entertaining video

    • Skypilot4u August 18, 2017, 7:16 pm

      Sorry, Chuck, but I have to disagree with you about long guns inside patrol vehicles being able to be taken.
      Here’s why: Long ago, in the City of West Covina, CA on a bright sunny day, an officer received a call of a man acting strangely in a residential neighborhood. When the officer arrived, he found the subject to be a rather large man who appeared under the influence of PCP. If anyone has ever dealt with folks UTI of this stuff, they know that the person can be quite complacent in one phase of the drug, then become resistant, then become violent, in just a few minutes time.
      If I recall correctly, this particular officer was not able to get the man cuffed behind his back, possibly because of the man’s size (not sure whether he was very muscular or just heavy), so he cuffed him with his hands in front. As he was trying to walk the man to his patrol car, the subject decided he didn’t want to go to jail, so he pulled up a large pole (about 3″ diameter and about six feet or more in length) out of the ground next to a recently planted tree. The man began swinging the pole at the officer. The officer pulled his duty weapon and ordered the man to drop the pole and retreat.
      The subject did not comply, so the officer put the squad car in between him and the man, keeping the man from injuring the officer with the pole.
      Then the man did something totally unexpected. He reached into the driver’s door of the squad car and began jerking at the shotgun in the rack. He was able to break the mount off and remove the gun from the car, though it was still in the mount. The man then went to work at getting a round racked into the shotgun in spite of the mount, and eventually was able to. He pointed the gun at the officer, who kept ducking below the roof of the squad car and telling the man to drop the gun.
      Sadly, the man was finally able to get off one shot, I think it was between the roof and the light bar, and killed the officer.
      The officer died, apparently because he had not already decided that if he had to take the life of another human being, he would do so. Not sure if this negates your points completely, but I believe it should give you pause.
      As for me, I wouldn’t keep an AR anywhere but in the trunk of the squad car, like I used to back in the ‘good old days’.
      But no matter what, be careful out there folks!

  • Jeff jilek August 18, 2017, 1:20 pm

    Funny this topic is under ” what to do this weekend “

  • Tripwire August 18, 2017, 12:59 pm

    Stop being Mall Ninja haters, If this video prevents one person from getting a cops rifle then it’s well worth it and it might wake up some departments… No harm, no foul.

  • Adam Jeppson August 18, 2017, 11:36 am

    WHY?!! would you put this out there? I don’t get personal on these replies and comments because it’s rude. That being said, this demonstrates piss-poor judgement! Some nipple head idiot will go out now and try this and ruin or end his life. Credit will go to you. Irresponsible.

    • Geno August 18, 2017, 3:07 pm

      Trust me, the crooks already know. Well some of them anyway. Ok all of them that found this article know now. ok, never mind.

  • roger August 18, 2017, 10:51 am

    CLAY MARTIN needs to go to prison.

    • petra rock August 18, 2017, 11:29 am

      no one on the left even suggests that

      Part of the mental disorder of the gun grabbers in our nation is the constantly reinforced idea that if we make guns illegal, criminals can’t get them. All we need to do ban scary black rifles and “high-capacity” magazines, then close that dirty “gun show loophole,” and we can live in a crime-free metropolis. Just like London and Paris.

      in fact years of not having propper laws have made america a place where it will take a long time and a lot of laws to make us like london… all weve ever said about the 3 things is that they are obvious common sense ways of reducing gun violence…. and were right and you are just lieing to try to persuade people to let you all run around with your macho attitude… which is just that… attitude and as they say attitude is like a flat tire… till you fix it … YOURE GOING NO WHERE

      • Michael Keim August 18, 2017, 1:25 pm

        Who are you trying to kid? Your idea of proper gun laws is banning everything. None of you have the balls to admit it. As far as Mr. Martin’s macho attitude goes, he actually served his country like a lot of the rest of us. I’m sure you didn’t. We’ve all seen how well gun control works in Chicago and other gun control paradises. I’ve heard all the left’s excuses why it’s failing there. The answer is just a little more control. The 2nd Amendment was put in the Bill of Rights to protect us from people like you and friends so why don’t you play hide and go ef yourself.

        • Dewey August 22, 2017, 10:42 am

          You served no one other than slimy, spineless politicians, who themselves were serving their corporate masters when they sent you to whatever third-world hellhole to “protect freedumb” (and make them lots of money). You go ahead and keep believing that your “service” is protecting our “freedom” (they’re both in quotes for a reason, and it isn’t emphasis).

  • GRA August 18, 2017, 10:42 am

    Before I retired from DHS-ICE last year we were keeping our M4(s), shotguns, back-up weapons, extra mags and ammo in a high-level secured lock box (vehicle safe) in the trunk, truck bed, or rear area of the vehicle that utilized 2 tumbler locks to open. Prior to using this setup we suffered several thefts nationwide but afterwards this all dropped of significantly. If a weapon is stolen now from a vehicle and it was not secured the officer is set to suffer a significant career setback, to say the least. Of course we were working fugitives and our job / weapon utilization was different from local departments so we were able to follow somewhat different guidelines. With us basically, if the long arms are out of the lockbox/safe it’s because they are only in your hands already.

  • Jeff August 18, 2017, 9:45 am

    Many people commented on the fact that there is no room in the vehicle to move the rifle upwards, but assuming there was, I did see one major flaw in your logic. There were no rear sights on that rifle. No cop (or anyone outside of Hollywood) that I know of would use a rifle without rear sights. They would, at a minimum, have a BUIS and would likely have some sort of optical sight as well. Now, I realize that many optics have some sort of QD mount, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a BUIS with a QD mount. Certainly not on a service rifle.

  • Shawn August 18, 2017, 9:18 am

    You kinda forgot something important – the roof of the cruiser. You assume you can just lift the receiver up like you did

  • Jon August 18, 2017, 9:06 am

    I am writing this response to point out the highly flawed and very very deceiving information the average reader may take away from the video. First off just to establish my knowledge base, I have been a cop for more than thirty years, not a cop that sat behind a desk but a street cop, and supervisor for more than 20 years of that time. I started every shift with anywhere from 20-40 deputies in a major city and I pushed a car long before long guns were even considered normal; secondly, I am in NO WAY defending or advocating any individual long gun/shotgun lock; and lastly, I am not writing this response to disparage the authors good intentions, I have no knowledge about his background or experience. It may be in firearms but it is glaringly not in law enforcement.

    Although I am not going to give away trade secrets that I am sure a criminal could get a number of other ways, there is no reason, zero, nada, zilch for a criminal to use brute force to remove a long gun/shotgun from an active squad’s security lock. Every lock I have ever encountered has a primary lock and a traditional secondary key lock but the key lock is NOT utilized while the car is on-duty.

    Mounted weapons and their locking devices in a squads are done a variety of ways but the most common are 1) center vertical mount on the security screen between the driver/passenger seats 2) horizontal mount either on the interior roof above the driver/passenger or on the security screen behind the diver/passenger’s head or 3) mounted horizontally in the trunk or on the trunk lid. Again, ingenuity plays a part in the mounting but these are the most common ways. In my department we tried all of these and more but the hands down overall best was the vertical mount on the security screen between the driver and passenger. It is the position used in the video and it is the position I will use for future discussions.

    Now factoring in the length of the long gun/shotgun (standard being 26-28″), the overall height of the vehicle from floor to ceiling (I don’t have a squad with me right now but it is barely more than the length of the long gun/shotgun) and the lock’s placement it is impossible to move the long gun/shotgun up or down without making a hole in the squad’s roof or floorboard.

    The placement of the lock is also a consideration. Based on average body measurements of torso length the lock is placed at roughly the height of a deputies shoulder so that he/she can can reach up and back with their right arm, when seated and facing forward, to flip the lock open with their thumb when the weapon is needed. With the placement of the lock in this position the weapon cannot be moved up and down even when disassembled as in the video. The lock is also placed so the butt of the weapon is resting on the floorboard of the squad so there is no way to get any downward movement as in the video, only upward and only if you made a hole in the roof. Next, let’s move on to the brute force issue used in the video. Just how much brute force, absent all the other safety devices in play, can you use effectively inside the front seat of a squad packed with radios, computers, and all sorts of other equipment. Just try it in your car at home, there just isn’t any room to gain leverage.

    Lastly, law enforcement is gregarious. Where you see one squad you will see almost every squad assigned to a call. The deputies/officers get as close to the scene as safely possible. It is common sense and standard operating procedure to always leave at least one deputy/officer with the vehicles whenever possible and the officers/deputies almost, almost always, lock their cars out of habit when walking or running towards a call. It’s their office with lots of expensive stuff they care about and I haven’t even touched on car alarms. Believe me, we risk our lives everyday with the same people, day in and day out. You do not just walk up to a squad without being challenged and I don’t care if you are wearing a uniform like in the movies. We know each other by sight, demeanor, manner and all sorts of other indicators.

    To bring this all to an end, in thirty plus years I have never heard of a long gun/shotgun being stolen out of an active squad or even a parked squad where a long gun/shotgun lock was employed in my agency of +2k deputies or any of our surrounding agencies, local, state or federal. I did assist in one investigation where several long guns/shotguns were stolen from their locked vehicles but the caveat to that incident is that the vehicles were parked at a remote unattended location and the weapons were removed with power saws.

    Nothing in this world or in the depraivity of the humanity specie surprises me in the least anymore. Oh I am positive there has been a few weapons stolen as alleged but it is no where near the problem/issue, as common or easy as the article would lead the uninformed to believe.

    • John Houck August 18, 2017, 10:32 am

      Also being a retired street cop, I just do not see supporting statistics to believe that this is anything but a manufactured problem. I have seen only two incidences where long guns were removed from police vehicles. Both vehicles were unmarked and both had the guns incorrectly secured in the trunk…. Criminals do not get their guns from the police or police equipment. They get them through underground gun trade, burglaries, theft and other illicit criminal activities.

      • Dave Davidson August 18, 2017, 12:49 pm

        “I have seen only two incidences where long guns were removed from police vehicles…”
        In about five minutes, I could find at least ten publicized incidents of off-duty cops that have had their weapons stolen from their vehicles. Surely, most are NOT publicized. Most often, it’s when they’re at a restaurant. I remember when the Chief of the Seattle PD had his duty pistol stolen.

    • Peter August 18, 2017, 12:46 pm

      Yours was an excellent response.

    • Batman August 18, 2017, 4:24 pm

      Jeez, Clay Martin is a F!#Ktard and you have WAAAY to much time on your hands.

  • Jessie Jackson August 18, 2017, 8:46 am

    I haven’t seen too many Crown Vic convertibles, do you cut a hole in the roof? I carry mine next to my mp5 clamped to the roof of my trunk.

  • Bryan August 18, 2017, 8:10 am

    Why is this in the “things to do this weekend” column? Doesn’t seem like something good to do this weekend. 😊

  • DBM August 18, 2017, 7:41 am

    I have known people that bought whatever caliber pistols the local cops use. Why? In the event of a SHTF every police car is a ream/load point.

    • Retired soldier November 19, 2017, 4:42 pm

      If this is your survival strategy, that’s moronic and you and your ‘people’ will not do well if this is your collective strategy. My survival strategy; I own the same or better gear I was issued before I retired out of the military. My biggest threat is hurricanes, as I live in West Florida.
      Katrina showed us the aftermath and violence post cataclysmic storms. Even the police were afraid to patrol for some time, due to violent criminals lurking in the shadows, simply waiting on opportunity. So with that in mind, I armed myself with less than lethal and lethal, bad guys strategies dictate my response.

      So if your strategy is to rob police equipment and gear during a violent time. The coroner will probably get to know you due to your imbecilic strategy. It’s moronic. Not to mention, many LEO agencies don’t give the police the best tools that are out there. If idiots like you steal their gear, I hope you run into a person like me, as I’d stop you. They need their tools to get the streets safe, if morons steal them, you hurt us all.

  • Andy Buckmichael August 18, 2017, 7:04 am

    It does not make any difference. Most cops are not intelligent enough to use it or lock it.

    • Wayne R Cook August 18, 2017, 7:34 am

      Andy, my guess from looking at your response is that most cops are both better educated, as well as more seasoned than you. There is a good piece of granite in Big Bend Nactional Park you are free to vent your anger upon. You obviously don’t support the blue, perhaps you lean toward the anti cop #BLM movment?

    • missourisam August 18, 2017, 11:23 am

      I suppose you are so intelligent that you should be a police officer. Though I would question your resolve to put your life on the line for complete strangers daily, or your guts to do so. Yes in a way cops are not real intelligent. They work for less pay than they could receive else where, but the large percentage of them do so because they care about their community and their county. It is called patriotism in case you missed out on that commitment. Can you say the same, or are you one of the elite that would give our nation away? Think long and hard about what your life, and the lives of your children would be like, if you are not one of the self centered slobs that think children are a omniscience, and will not have any.

      • Andy Buckmichael August 18, 2017, 2:17 pm

        That is crap. They are the highest paid high school, ged or non-graduates in the country.

    • Michael Keim August 18, 2017, 1:29 pm

      You’re a horse’s ass.

  • Paul August 18, 2017, 6:13 am

    As a former LEO, I have to question how much of a problem this is? I’ve never heard of it happening, but I’m sure it could. Just like an officer could be overpowered by assailants and lose his side-arm. Now THAT happens quite often, and probably, given the current conditions in this country, will continue to be a threat. I believe that many departments keep the heavy firepower in the trunk of the police cruiser. It may be difficult to get instantaneous access to, but it is more secure than a full-auto lead spreader in the front seat. And, all things considered,more often than not you don’t expect to need an AR when you are on a call until you’ve exited the vehicle and assessed the situation. There’s likely to be time to retrieve the weapon in the trunk if you receive a call of an active shooter, or shots fired. In other words, don’t have heavy weaponry unattended in the front seat.

    • Wayne R Cook August 18, 2017, 7:35 am

      Your comment was my immediate thought as well.

  • KEN August 18, 2017, 5:48 am

    Even after the takedown pins off you still don’t have the room too remove the upper in a car. That said it also depends on mounted direction. I think the rifles are usually in the trunk. It’s not like I spend time in police cars.

    • Wayne R Cook August 18, 2017, 7:36 am

      Interesting point…All I recall seeing in the 10000 or so patrol cars in department lots and driving streets were combat pump shotguns…not rifles.

  • gn404445 August 18, 2017, 4:56 am

    I can get that Haas running for you.

  • Davron August 18, 2017, 3:27 am

    I think the first brute force attacks might not work so well depending on where it is mounted in the car since you had to pull it up, but the “elegant” attack obviously was fast and easy and I’m assuming you didn’t cheat and dismount the handcuff style in a way that is only easy to do because it was on your special demonstration plate. The second style looks more secure and I’ll certainly ask my police friends to see if this is the type in their cars. Thanks for the demonstration.

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