Police in some Texas cities say they've seen an uptick in crimes being committed with imitation weapons like BB guns.

Authorities say that's likely because the imitation guns are cheap, easy to obtain and criminals may mistakenly believe that if they're caught, they'll avoid the severe punishment that can come with illegally possessing a real one.

Police Lt. Christopher Cook in the Dallas suburb of Arlington says his officers are being told by arrested suspects of their preference for the imitation guns. They can be purchased for as little as $25, with no background check.

But if a victim of a crime in Texas believes a gun pointed at them is real, that's enough to warrant a first-degree felony charge. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.