WCSO: Don't forget to take your gun with you

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SOUTH WALTON, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - When it comes to packing up and heading home from vacation, most people check, and double check, that they don't leave anything behind.

But according to Walton County Sheriff's officials, they have seen a spike in one item, in particular, being left behind.

"Unfortunately, renters do leave their handguns behind and a lot of the cleaning crews that come in and clean the property behind them find those guns and turn them into the Sheriff's Office," said Walton County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Supervisor, Mark Lathan.

Since Memorial Day weekend, officials say they have collected 22 guns that have been left behind in condos or rental properties, and this past weekend, seven have been turned over, which they say is a staggering number.

"It's huge. If a cleaning room comes in and cleans the property for the next guest that comes in and they just possibly don't do a good job or miss it, then that gun could be sitting there waiting for the next family that is going to come in and rent the place and they might have young kids," said Lathan. "Kids could come in and they might find the gun and if they find it, something tragic could happen."

Lathan said these guns have been found anywhere from inside a condo safe, in the nightside table drawer, and even in between mattresses.

"[Don't forget your] wallet, keys, cell phone, and gun if you have it on you. That's probably one of the most important things. If you know that you have a gun, you definitely need to remember where it is and take it with you once you check out of these rental properties," Lathan added.

Lathan also said when a gun is turned over to the Sheriff's Office, the owner has 90 days to collect it before it's forfeited to the Sheriff's Office.