You know, it’s hard enough finding guns and ammunition right now without anyone stealing them before they even make it to their intended destination. Maybe things will ease up slightly for firearms retailers in South Carolina now that five employees of UPS have been pilfering packages containing firearms while on the company dime.
The five young men, identified by authorities as 19-year olds Byron Burke, Jalen Green, Tre’von Williams, and 18-year olds Dishon Kinney and Kenyon Peters are now facing charges of breach of trust, with Kinney and Peters facing criminal conspiracy charges as well.
UPS’s security team notified the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department that guns were being stolen from incoming trucks. LCSD says Kinney and Peters devised the plan and that all five men sold the guns or gave them away while on company time.
Gave them away? How generous and kind-hearted of them, given that they could have turned around and sold the guns on the illicit market. Maybe that’s why their bonds were set low enough that all five men were quickly able to be sprung from custody. The suspects were arrested at work last Thursday, but had already bonded out by Tuesday.
At this point, there’s no official word on just how many guns may have been stolen before the UPS security team notified the local sheriff, and we don’t know if any of the firearms have been recovered either. I have a sneaking suspicion that none of the guns in question have actually turned up, because the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department hasn’t announced any arrests for individuals receiving stolen property.
If I’m reading South Carolina law correctly buying, selling, or giving away a stolen handgun is a felony offense in South Carolina, punishable by up to five years in prison. However, at the moment the five suspects have been charged with “breach of trust,” which is only a misdemeanor offense if the property in question is valued at less than $1,000. Presumably prosecutors can add up the value of all of the stolen firearms, which should make their charges a felony, but it looks like this case offers plenty of opportunities for a plea bargain to reduced charges. Despite the seriousness of the offense, there’s a good possibility that most of men arrested will suffer few consequences for their actions.
This is at least the second case of stolen firearms originating from UPS employees this year. Back in February, authorities in North Carolina busted 32-year old Matthew Scott Nunes after several firearms disappeared in transit to local gun stores.
According to an arrest warrant, the guns were in transit from the UPS shipping facility in Asheville to three stores: On Target Shooting Range, Prices Creek General Store and Cherokee Trading Post. Each charge is a felony.
According to the search warrant, the UPS loss prevention department called the Asheville Police Department on Dec. 20 to report Nunes, who was a UPS employee at the time. Once APD arrived at the local UPS center, Nunes admitted to having stolen multiple firearms while employed with UPS. Nunes told detectives he had opened several packages and removed guns before repackaging the shipments.
Here’s a helpful hint to any UPS or FedEx employees thinking about stealing the next package they see at work with guns inside: don’t. Both companies have security departments that are on guard for things like this, and if you’re caught, you could be looking at several years behind bars.
With violent crime on the rise across the country, prosecutor in South Carolina shouldn’t go easy on the five men currently facing charges for their gun theft ring. It’s time to send a message that actions like this won’t be tolerated, and that means no sweetheart plea deals that result in a slap on the wrist instead of prison time.