Gun Shop Burglars Increasingly Using Cars, Trucks For Smash & Grabs

Gun Shop Burglars Increasingly Using Cars, Trucks For Smash & Grabs
(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Criminals targeting gun stores are increasingly using a new tactic to gain entry; ramming cars or trucks into the building to bypass security measures like barred windows and reinforced doors.

There’ve been several such incidents reported around the country just this week, including a gun shop in Waldorf, Maryland that was hit early Tuesday morning.

The burglars drove a pickup truck into the doors of Fred’s Outdoors at 2895 Crain Highway about 1:20 a.m. The suspects used a tool to mangle the doors and bypassed several layers of security to get inside, the Charles County Sheriff’s Department said.

A metal grate at the entrance was peeled upward, video from the scene shows.

Officers responded to the scene in less than 90 seconds, but the thieves were already gone by the time police arrived.
Two days later and thousands of miles away, a Marin County, California gun store was targeted with the same tactic.

The crime happened at about 4:50 a.m. Thursday at Marin County Arms at 500 Alameda del Prado, Novato police Sgt. Trevor Hall said. The burglar drove a Honda CRV at the business, breaking the front window.

The vehicle was still wedged inside the building when police arrived. Surveillance footage shows the burglar dressed in a black balaclava mask, a black and yellow USC Trojans sweatshirt, black pants and tan colored work boots. He had short dark hair.

The stolen guns were 0.22-caliber bolt-action rifles. The shop staff was taking inventory to see if any other merchandise was stolen, Hall said.

Police in Novato say that the car used by the burglar had been reported stolen, which is another common strategy being deployed by criminals targeting gun shops. We saw the same thing happen a month ago in Durham, North Carolina. In that case, police have been able to make one arrest, but two other suspects are still outstanding.

Jeffrey Allen Velez Jr., 27, of Durham, was charged with possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon, three counts of larceny after breaking and entering, two counts of breaking and entering, larceny of a firearm, possession of stolen goods or property, personal injury to property, and conspiracy to commit felony.

Velez was served with an arrest warrant for the Feb. 4 break-in at the gun shop while he was at Durham County Detention Facility on previous unrelated charges.

Police said Victor S. Odom, 20, of Durham, is wanted for possession of a stolen motor vehicle, injury to real property, injury to personal property, breaking and entering and larceny of firearms.

Ayhiana Kelly, 19, of Durham, is also wanted in the investigation on accessory charges.

Twin brothers who allegedly used a stolen car to smash in the front of an Indianapolis gun shop back in January have also been arrested and charged with a variety of felonies.

There’s really no way to completely burglar-proof a business. If thieves are determined to get in, chances are they’ll find a way. If possible, it makes sense for shops to lock up their inventory of guns and ammunition each evening after the store closes. Gun shops might not be able to prevent a thief from ramming into their front door, they can make it harder for them to grab any guns they might find once they’re inside.
Of course, one of the best deterrents to this type of crime is to ensure that there are actual consequences when suspects are arrested and charged, and that’s not always happening. A 17-year old busted in Maryland for using a stolen car to commit a smash and grab burglary in 2019 received just two years behind bars, which turned into a sentence of just over a year with good time credits.
Rather than pass legislation increasing the punishment for theft of a firearm, lawmakers in Maryland decided this year to impose new background check requirements for those legally acquiring a long gun in the state; another example of anti-gun lawmakers cracking down on law-abiding gun owners instead of focusing on the criminals who have no problem committing a variety of offenses in order to illegally get ahold of a gun.
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