NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- More guns are being stolen out of cars according to a new report and two South Carolina cities are among the five cities with the highest rate of gun thefts.

According to a new analysis by the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, gun thefts from cars are the largest source of stolen guns. From 2011 to 2020, an estimated 77,000 guns were reported stolen from vehicles across 38 states.

In 2020 alone, more than half (52%) of illegally obtained firearms were stolen from cars compared to a decade ago when less than a quarter of gun thefts were from cars.

Essentially, that means on average a gun is stolen from a vehicle every 15 minutes in the United States.

Source: Everytown for Gun Safety analysis of FBI NIBRS data, 2011–2020.

According to NBC News, experts said the increased rate of gun thefts from cars has partially been exacerbated by the surge in firearm purchases. In 2020, the FBI conducted more firearm background checks than any year on record, roughly 40 million.

The research revealed that Columbia and North Charleston were among the top five cities with the most gun thefts from cars between 2011 and 2020, preceded only by Memphis, TN and Chattanooga, TN.

Columbia had a rate of 172.6 guns stolen per 10,000 people, while North Charleston had a rate of 165.0 gun stolen.

Source: Everytown for Gun Safety analysis of FBI NIBRS data, 2011–2020

The number of guns stolen from cars in Columbia grew from 64 in 2011 to 230 in 2020, a roughly 260% increase. In North Charleston, the number increased by roughly 493% from 31 in 2011 to 184 in 2020.

South Carolina gun owners are not required to report when the firearm has been lost or stolen which indicates that the number of gun thefts could be even higher than reported, according to Everytown.

While South Carolina law requires a firearm to be stored in a closed compartment in the “luggage compartment” of a vehicle without a permit, a Concealed Weapons Permit allows a person to keep a handgun in an open or closed compartment or under any seat within the vehicle.

This new data comes amidst a rash of shootings in North Charleston and an announcement that the North Charleston Police Department seized 34 illegally carried guns in April.

“The North Charleston Police Department is committed to overall reduction of all property crimes, to include the issue of gun thefts. This is being done by way of education efforts throughout the city in our “Lock it or Lose it” campaign and with increased patrols in affected areas. We have experienced a high number of gun thefts from automobiles over the years, and continue to strongly urge the public to please remove valuables and always remember to lock your car doors.”

Captain Matt Hughes, North Charleston Police Department

Everytown said states need to pass gun safety laws “requiring that guns be securely stored and not visible when left unattended in cars” in order to combat the trend.