Insult to Injury: Colorado gun store owner struggles to get property back from police after burglary

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The brazen smash-and-grab daylight burglary of Grandpa’s Pawn and Gun in Longmont, Colorado didn’t merit much media attention when it happened in August of 2020. A brief mention in the police blotter was the only coverage of the incident that I could find, and there were no details given; surprising given the fact that someone drove a stolen pickup truck into the front of the store at 8:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning in order to gain access to the guns inside. The suspect spent more than seven minutes stealing from the store, by the way, but according to owner Rod Brandenburg the first officers didn’t arrive on scene until 26 minutes after the alarm went off.

It wasn’t until Brandenburg started raising a little hell about the soft treatment being shown to the suspect in the case that anyone in the Denver media showed an interest in the story, and that only happened in December of last year, when 22-year old Roxanna Aguilar was given bond in the case despite being a suspect in a string of similar burglaries and attempted break-ins in the area.

“That’s insulting. Anybody who owns a business should be in an uproar about this,” Brandenburg said.

We asked the Boulder County district attorney why bond was issued for the 22-year-old. A police affidavit shows she’d been suspected of being involved in a string of other incidents as well.

A spokesman for the DA’s office told us today, “This is a serious case.”

Her bond, for legal reasons, had to be modified, according to the DA’s office, while she is transferred from Boulder County to Weld County and eventually a community corrections facility.

That bond was issued, by the way, after Aguilar pleaded guilty to multiple felonies. According to FOX 31 in Denver, Aguilar was supposed to be in court in February to receive her sentence, but I’ve not been able to find any information about her sentencing agreement online.

When I spoke to Brandenburg this week, however, he told me that he believes Aguilar is still in a community corrections facility… otherwise known as a halfway house. That wouldn’t be much punishment at all for a break in that cost Brandenburg tens of thousands of dollars in repairs, security upgrades, and increased insurance rates.

The shop suffered $40,000 worth of damage. Insurance paid for most of the damages, but now the insurance rates for the business have gone up 55%.

“We definitely need more cops out on the streets. We need a lot stricter sentencing guidelines. She’s just going to commit more crimes,” Brandenburg said.

… In the meantime, Brandenburg has spent another $30,000 on fortifying his fortress, as he describes it. He’s hoping his business is safe once again.

So far, there’ve no other attempts to steal any firearms from Brandenburg’s business, but there’s still an unresolved matter. In early May Brandenburg was told by the Boulder County D.A.’s office that, since the criminal proceedings against Aguilar had wrapped up, he was free to get his property back from the Longmont, Colorado police.

Yep, apparently some firearms were recovered from the theft, though Brandenburg says he still doesn’t know what, exactly, Longmont police have in their custody. An even bigger problem is that since then, according to the gun store owner, he’s been getting the runaround from the local police about when he can get his guns back.

Brandenburg shared copies of two emails from Longmont officers responding to his request to set up an appointment to have his property returned. The first was sent on May 3rd, and informed Brandenburg that the appointment he’d made for the following day would have to be rescheduled because “the person that normally handles this is out sick this week.”

It’s kind of odd that a department with 200 employees (officers and civilians alike) would only have one person who could return stolen property to crime victims, but whatever. Everyone’s short-staffed these days.

Two days later, however, Brandenburg received another email informing him that he would have to have a background check conducted on him before his property was placed back in his hands, which seems more than a little ridiculous given that Brandenburg is a Federal Firearms Licensee.

Brandenburg says he’s never heard of a requirement like that, and it appears it’s a department regulation and not a state or federal law. As exasperating as it is, he was willing to do it, but on Wednesday afternoon Brandenburg received yet another email informing him that he didn’t need to provide any information to police after all, that his check had taken place and he was good to go. Brandenburg now has an appointment for Friday morning to receive his property, though at this point he says he’s still not sure how many of the stolen guns police may have recovered. Hopefully we’ll be able to soon update this story with the good news that this ordeal is finally over.

Colorado Democrats passed laws last year requiring gun owners to keep their guns locked up and to report all lost or stolen firearms or else face criminal penalties themselves, but this case shows just how unserious the state is when it comes to the perpetrators of these crimes. Someone rams a stolen truck into a gun shop’s front door and steals a dozen firearms only to get a slap on the wrist as a result. Meanwhile, the guy who reported the thefts to police went through weeks of bureaucratic nonsense before he get his property back.

Given the fact that Brandenburg has spent tens of thousands of dollars to repair his shop and upgrade his security, was dropped by his original insurance company after filing his first claim in more than 30 years, and is now paying 55% more in premiums than before Aguilar broke into his store, while she apparently got off with a slap on the wrist, it’s hard for me to see how justice has been done here. Colorado Democrats keep targeting law-abiding gun owners (and gun sellers) with new criminal penalties rather than insuring that gun thieves, traffickers, and violent criminals actually pay a price for their crimes; and Coloradans keep paying the price, with crime rates soaring since the state’s first new gun control laws in decades were approved in 2013. The nine years since have proven that Colorado’s attempt to ban its way to safety has been an abject failure, but as long as Democrats have a tight grip on the reins of state government, their disastrous experiment is likely to continue.