Ozarks Gun Dealers Fight Increase in Thefts

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Rev Steve Heather KOLR

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The number of guns stolen in gun store burglaries nationwide rose 73% to more than 7,400 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

“We just pay attention everyday, all day long to security measures,” says Nick Newman, owner of Cherokee Firearms in Springfield.

Cherokee is taking extra steps to keep thieves from targeting them,

“We’ve tightened security a little bit and made sure the cameras are all upgraded. We make sure the locks are all secured and tighten up a couple of spots.”

Newman says he doesn’t have one answer for why these burglaries are on the rise, “It’s a little disconcerting to have people that are in the industry that don’t take the time to secure their stuff.”

But Newman says he believes it’s a combination of criminal appetite, seeing success and doing it again.”Over the last couple weeks they’re have been a couple of break ins and break in attempts at other businesses that we kind of watch and pay attention to.”

In March, Elite Arms Company in Springfield became one of those targets after being broken into. Owner Myron Bahm tells KOLR10; “We had someone cut through the back door, crawled across the floor to avoid our alarm system and they came in.”

Fortunately, Bahm’s guns were locked up and the thief was unsuccessful. “It’s very frustrating because we don’t want guns in the hands of criminals.”

Bahm calls this one a hard lesson.  “We’ve increased several security measures in the store as well as outside to try to deter any criminals from breaking in and taking any firearms.”

Realizing the ever present threat of a break-in from reoccurring, Bahm says he’s taking those extra steps. “No matter how secure you think your place is it’s not probably not secure enough.”

When those guns are stolen, gun owners say it’s more than just a problem for the targeted businesses — it’s a safety issue for the entire community.

“We’re trying to keep the bad guys out of this industry. Really if you can’t own a gun you shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun, you shouldn’t be able to come in here and have anything,” explains Newman.

And Newman has a message for would be burglars.  “You ought to try somewhere else cause there’s no way getting in here and if you do you’re not going to find anything.”

The ATF says Missouri tied for eighth in the country, with 14 burglaries reported at federally licensed dealers in 2016. Springfield had two attempts this year, but both were unsuccessful.

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