By Jennifer Brice

DENVER (CBS4) – Federal authorities say a spike in firearms thefts in Colorado is the highest in a decade. The number of guns stolen has doubled in a year, all from stores in 10 metro area cities.

The ATF does not regulate security measures that a gun shop chooses to take to protect their guns, but rather where the guns come from and who they are sold to.

That is why federal agents and local police are now going door to door, talking to firearm dealers about the rise in thefts and offering advice on how not to be a target.

gun theft 1 ATF: Number Of Guns Stolen Doubles In Past Year

(credit: CBS)

In surveillance video provided by the ATF, you can see gun thieves smash a van right through a Centennial gun shop. You can see the crooks pile inside, swiping as many guns possible within minutes.

gun dealer thefts 5pkg frame 325 ATF: Number Of Guns Stolen Doubles In Past Year

(credit: CBS)

Surveillance video from various gun shop burglaries show CBS4 exactly why the ATF is making these crimes a priority.

Deborah Livingston, the Special Agent in Charge of the Denver Field Office of the ATF, says they will find the thieves.

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Deborah Livingston, Special Agent in Charge ATF Denver (credit: CBS)

“We will prosecute these people and were going to recover the guns and get them out of the hands of the criminals that they are in,” said Livingston.

The number of firearms stolen from Colorado gun dealers more than doubled in 2016, reaching a 10-year high of 273. SAC Livingston says most gun dealers have ample security.

gun store thefts 1 ATF: Number Of Guns Stolen Doubles In Past Year

(credit: CBS)

“If you can’t prevent it,” she says. “At least slow them (thieves) down because if they can’t grab but one or two things in a couple of minutes.”

Livingston encourages all shops to lock up their inventory overnight.

The locations of the firearms dealers burglarized span the metro area:

  • Longmont
  • Wheat Ridge
  • Jefferson County (unincorporated)
  • Littleton
  • Thornton
  • Colorado Springs
  • Parker
  • Adams County (unincorporated)
  • Brighton
  • Lakewood

Over the past year, police arrested 15 suspects involved in firearms thefts at guns shops. Fifty-five firearms have been recovered.

gun dealer thefts 5pkg frame 1504 ATF: Number Of Guns Stolen Doubles In Past Year

CBS4’s Jennifer Brice interviews Acting U.S Attorney Bob Troyer (credit: CBS)

Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer says stolen guns then turn up in used in violent crimes, “We’ve seen some high profile gang related shootings that we’ve charged from my office where they’ve been in public at a gas station.”

He adds that those shooting happened in the afternoon on a weekday, “With bullet flying past the heads of children and people pumping gas.”

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(credit: CBS)

Local police and federal agents are talking to gun dealers, educating them about safe storage and sending out robo calls when a theft happens. Troyer also has a message for the criminals.

“This is not a lark,” he says. “When you end up doing 10 years in Anchorage, Alaska in a federal prison.”

gun dealer thefts 5vomap transfer ATF: Number Of Guns Stolen Doubles In Past Year

The ATF will host two seminars next week for gun dealers, offering information and support related to gun thefts. There are also still active rewards being offered for some of burglaries here in Colorado. If you have information, call the ATF or Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867). You can text to CRIMES (274637) then title DMCS and enter your message or send an e-mail to If the information you provide leads to the arrest and charging of a wanted individual, you can receive a cash reward up to $2,000.

Jennifer Brice is a reporter with CBS4 focusing on crime and courts. Follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @CBS4Jenn.


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