INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A surge in gun store burglaries has investigators at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) concerned.
ATF says they've seen a spike in gun store burglaries and robberies over the past six weeks right here in central Indiana. They're working around the clock to catch the crooks and get the guns off the streets.
"These individuals will break in however they can, and they will take as much as they can, as quickly as they can,” said ATF Group Supervisor Patrick Hand.
Two guns were stolen in Kokomo. There was a burglary in Avon, where no guns were stolen and another one in Greenwood where nine guns were stolen. Police arrested Davion Lindsey, Ja'Wan Thompson and a juvenile for that crime.
"We are making more arrests, prosecuting more individuals, we're getting more individuals prosecuted in state court. We're getting convictions, and we're doing a lot of prevention,” said Hand.
Hand says prevention comes with more training for investigators, prioritizing these incidents and working hand in hand with gun dealers.
- INDIANA (2017)
- 159 Guns Stolen
- INDIANA (2018)
- 244 Guns Stolen
(Data according to ATF Firearms Tracing System)
"I think it really began back in 2014, 2015. Really started to take notice that nationwide this was becoming an epidemic,” said Hand.
He says the guns become crime guns as soon as they're stolen, not when they're fired and used in a murder or another crime. The guns are recovered just about anywhere.
"They're recovered on a traffic stop, on a search warrant, during an arrest, abandoned on the side of the road,” said Hand.
In July, Indy Trading Post on Madison Avenue was hit, but the burglars didn't get what they came for.
"These cases are basically like glass safes. We've got a different alarm system, we also got different layers of security,” said Indy Trading Post owner Brian Ludlow.
Those layers include cameras, steel-plated doors, lights, posts and rolling shutters. Despite the thousands of dollars Ludlow has spent, he still leaves worried when he locks the doors at night.
"You'd like to hope the stuff would stop, but I don't think it ever will,” said Ludlow.
ATF will calculate the numbers for 2019 once the year wraps up. In the meantime, they're recommending stores heighten security to keep the numbers down.