By ASHLEY NEWMAN
There's been a sharp rise in the number of illegal weapons seized on both county and state roadways over the last year, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Illegal weapon arrests in Trumbull County nearly quadrupled in the last two years, patrol Sgt. William Bancroft said.
After four weapons arrests in 2012, the State Highway Patrol's Warren post in Southington confirmed 15 arrests in 2013.
Bancroft said the increased arrests were due to a number of factors, including troopers doing more thorough assessments during traffic stops.
"Also, a couple of these are permit violations where someone has a concealed carry permit and they're under the influence," Bancroft said. "But there's no doubt it is a growing trend. I can tell you I have quite a few weapons in my evidence locker right now, whereas last year, it was pretty much empty all the time."
Statewide, troopers made 550 arrests for possession of illegal weapons in 2013, a 39 percent increase over the 2012 totals.
In fact, illegal weapon arrests have risen each of the last five years, climbing 75 percent over this period.
"Every day, our troopers are out on the roadways taking felons out of your communities," said Lt. Brian Holt, commander of the Warren post, said in a prepared statement. "By being observant and spotting criminal indicators, drugs, illegal weapons and dangerous drivers are removed from the roadways."
Cuyahoga County saw the most weapon arrests by OSHP in 2013 with 49; followed by Franklin, 34; Warren, 31; Lucas, 20; and Summit, 20.
Statistics also show that these weapon arrests were often accompanied by other violations. In 36 percent of OSHP's weapon arrests in 2013, the offender was also charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Additionally, in 31 percent of the weapon arrests, the offender was also charged with a drug offense.