By Tom Mustin
LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – Exasperated owners of the Triple J Armory boarded up their entrance after yet another smash-and-grab at their Littleton gun store.
“We hope they get them this time. This does need to stop. It’s out of hand,” fellow shop owner Tom Hassell told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.
For the third time since June criminals slammed a vehicle into the store to try and steal guns.
Around 2 a.m. Wednesday a stolen Jeep plowed into the building, bowling over a security pole built after another burglary, and smashing through glass and a metal security fence.
“Four suspects entered the store, were able to get into some of the areas where the guns were stored, and made off with some firearms,” said Cmdr. Trent Cooper with the Littleton Police Department.
The criminals grabbed several weapons, and then escaped in another vehicle before police arrived. Along with the break-in last June, criminals also tried to ram a car into the store last November. That attempt was thwarted by concrete poles placed there by the owners. One of those poles was destroyed in Wednesday’s burglary.
Gun store smash-and-grab burglaries are on the rise nationwide. Surveillance video from last month shows thieves looting a gun store in Colorado Springs.
Cooper says stolen guns in the hands of criminals are an obvious concern. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is joining in the investigation.
“Certainly having additional guns on the street is disconcerting for the public as well as law enforcement,” he told Mustin.
After another brazen burglary, residents like Burr Porter say something has to give.
“I hope they catch them and get the guns back. Get them off the streets. That’s the last thing we need — is people like that with weapons.”
Littleton police say the four suspects are armed and dangerous. No arrests have been made.
It’s not known yet how many guns were stolen.
The ATF is sending out a warning to gun dealers, recommending dealers invest in heavy security at their front doors, added security cameras, alarms, and using cable lock through the triggers of guns that can’t be safely placed in storage.
“We recommend security measures but there currently are no security requirements,” said Lisa Meiman, spokesperson for the ATF field office in Denver.
While most gun dealers provide some level of security, many do not register on the higher end of the spectrum because of the cost.
“You could make it as secure as Fort Knox, but people still have to run a business that makes some profit, and even then you won’t stop the truly determined thieves,” said Meiman.
In 2016, burglars stole more than 270 guns from dealers in Colorado. Only 56 were stolen the previous year. The ATF expects the number of stolen guns to match the 2016 record this year.
“These gun dealers, they know that these guns are not going to be used as trophies or for hunting. They know they’re going to be used for crimes,” said Meiman.
The ATF is now warning gun stores to become hyper-vigilant about security, saying smash and grabs usually happen back-to-back.
If you have any information in the Triple J burglary, call the Littleton Police Department.