Gun shops are often the first line of defense in keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals who cannot legally possess them, and those who want to sell guns to such people.
Sometimes, this is a literal effort, as was the case for a gun store in Southaven Mississippi, which has been the target of thieves three times in the past five months, according to this report from wmcactionnews5.com.
But every time, the thieves left empty-handed, thanks to the store’s security measures.
“We just want to make absolutely sure that no guns are on the street that shouldn’t be,” said the owner of Dabb’s Gun and Pawn, Jane Dabbs, in the story.
She said iron bars, 32 cameras, and gun vaults have helped thwart each robbery attempt. Still, the attempts have cost the store dearly, with the last attempt racking up about $6,000 in damages.
Some of the thieves were caught after the second attempt, the report says.
Unfortunately, robbery attempts like those faced by Dabbs aren’t isolated incidents, according to this story from ABC News. It notes that the number of firearms stolen in gun shop burglaries rose 59 percent from 4,721 in 2015 to 7,488 in 2016, according to an annual report from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The Federal Firearms Licensee Theft/Loss Report, which you can read here, says a total of 18,394 guns were reported lost or stolen nationwide last year from federally licensed gun stores.
“it’s a lot of guns in one place and one they (criminals) realize instead of having to find one gun on a street corner or a dark alley they can go to a place where there’s a lot of guns, and quite honestly, I think the word gets out,” said Kevin O’Keefe, chief of the ATF’s Operational Intelligence Division, though he did not make it clear why the word had to get out that there are guns in gun shops.
Gun store burglaries were up 28 percent from 463 burglary incidents in 2015 to 558 in 2016.
Not only that, but the number of guns stolen during the course of these burglaries has gone up by 73 percent since 2012, the ATF says. This is largely due to a change of tactics on part of thieves. They aren’t trying to stick up a gun shop owner and risk getting shot. Instead, they often use a large vehicle to ram through the front of the store in the middle of the night, and grab everything they can as fast as possible before speeding away.
Footage released by police in Florida on Monday of a burglary where a pickup truck barrels through the front of Sunshine State Armory over the weekend.
The recent exploits of Joseph Jakubowski have brought the issue to the forefront of the nightly news. Jakubowski burglarized a gun store a week ago, stealing 16 guns after he sent an anti-government manifesto to President Trump.
The FBI increased its reward for information leading to his capture to $20,000 this week.
The ATF says it doesn’t know why these types of burglaries are on the rise, but that they mostly occur at smaller, independent shops in more remote areas—but they all have one thing in common, the burglars operate on a short clock. The time to successfully burglarize a gun store hasn’t exceeded 3.5 minutes, the story says.
To help combat the problem, the ATF launched an “FFL Alert” system in February that sends automated phone calls to all registered firearms dealers in a given county when there is an incident, the story says.
Some gun shops have elected to install vehicle-stopping cement barriers or poles in front of their stories to prevent burglaries involving vehicles.