ATF: Investigating gun thefts in Carolinas a priority after rece - | WBTV Charlotte

ATF: Investigating gun thefts in Carolinas a priority after recent uptick

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is prioritizing their investigations into recent gun thefts in the Carolinas.

Gun stores and pawn shops have been broken into in Charlotte, Concord and Mount Holly in just the past few weeks.

There have been seven gun burglaries and two gun robberies from licensed firearm dealers in the Charlotte metro area in just the last month according to Gerod King, Public Information Officer with the ATF Charlotte Field Division.

King considered the incidents a ‘spike’ in gun thefts, and said investigators can’t explain why it’s happening now.

“We have not seen a specific reason why this is transpiring, but we know it is a current crime trend and it is a priority for ATF and our investigative partners,” said King.

He said that investigators believe some of the cases may be related and that they have reason to believe that some of the suspects are crossing state lines. King said handguns are usually the firearms that are stolen from gun stores in the Carolinas because they are easy to conceal and the primary weapon of choice for criminals. He said the majority of stolen weapons end up in the hands of other criminals.

“When we have firearms that are stolen in these types of crimes, it is safe to assume they are going to go into the life of crime somewhere in some capacity,” said King.

The officer said a lot of times stolen firearms are recovered in the Carolinas and other times they are found in the northeast or some other part of the country where it is harder to get guns.

King noted that approximately 900 guns have been stolen from licensed vendors in the Carolinas this year. He said that is most guns stolen in a single ATF division in the entire country this year. There have been 81 incidents where guns were stolen from federally licensed dealers in 2016, according to King.

“We will utilize all things at our disposable to identify the suspects, apprehend them, bring them to justice and recover the firearms,” said King.

He encourages gun vendors to step up security at their facilities. He listed the following as options:

  • Install bars over doors and windows.
  • Install an alarm system at the store.
  • Make sure surveillance cameras are high-resolution.
  • Secure weapons at night.
  • Fortify the perimeter of the facility with cement blocks or poles.

King said he couldn’t specifically comment on any of the gun theft cases in the Charlotte metro area because they are still under investigation.

He encourages members of the public to contact the ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUNS or send anonymous emails to ATFtips@ATF.gov if they have any information about gun thefts in the Carolinas.

King said that officials are also working with the National Shooting Sports Foundation to offer rewards for information that leads to these cases being solved.

King said the ATF will continue to investigate the incidents and recover the stolen guns with local and state partners.

“It’s life. It happens, and when it does, you have to have people that deal with it and that’s what we do.”

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly