Gun shop burglaries on the rise nationally
ROGERS, Minn. (KMSP) - When a thief broke into the Gun and Gears store in Rogers, Minnesota, last week, he targeted high-end 45. caliber semi-automatic pistols and silencers.
He was in and out in a couple of minutes. And while this was a one man job, he is not alone.
"One of our duties is to reduce violent crime associated with firearms. so anytime that happens it's concerning," said Ashlee Sherrill, public information officer for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives St. Paul Field.
According to the ATF, the number of gun store burglaries jumped 28 percent nationwide between 2013 and 2015.
During that time, more than 12,000 weapons including handguns, shotguns and assault rifles were stolen.
But, the ATF stops short of calling it a trend, saying a couple of areas have seen gun shop burglaries skyrocket while other communities are seeing those thefts go down.
"There are certain areas of the country that are getting hit much harder than usual, and we'll see those numbers spike, particularly in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia - those numbers are really high," Sherill said.
Here in Minnesota, the number of weapons stolen from gun shops dropped from 187 in 2014 to 120 last year.
At 90, the number of weapons taken this year is on pace to finish well below that.
"There are a lot of investigative reasons the ATF is going to want to keep those numbers specifically if those guns do get used in other crimes. It gives us an idea of where to start looking to try to get those guns recovered and off the street," Sherrill said.
The ATF makes recommendations for gun store owners to protect their merchandise, such as having security cameras to help investigators identify suspects.
Hopefully, footage like this will help capture those criminals on more than just a camera.
The ATF also encourages individual gun owners to make a record of the make, model, serial number of their weapons so police can track them if they are stolen.
The bureau is also offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the Rogers gun shop burglary.