ATF letter warns gun shop owners of recent shop break-ins

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Since February 2016, about 50 firearms have been stolen in several gun shop break-ins across the Carolinas, according to a letter written by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The letter was sent to area gun shops in March. It warns owners of several successful and two unsuccessful burglaries in the Charlotte, Greenville and Columbia metro areas.

Furthermore, the letter states surveillance video and evidence found at the crime scenes allowed investigators to determine that cutting torches were used to make entry into the buildings.

That’s how a pair of suspects tried to break into the Arms Room on South Boulevard in March. Channel 9 reported surveillance video then that captured two masked suspects using a blowtorch to break into the gun shop. The suspects were unsuccessful.

“To me, it's proof that gun shops are being targeted by these guys,” said Matt King, who owns the Arms Room. “It kind of blew me away that a similar method was being employed at other stores.”

It’s believed thieves used a blowtorch to try and break into a gun shop known as James Firearm, just outside Greenville.

The store is now closed, due to a fire. A worker told Channel 9 they’ve given surveillance video to the ATF. The store didn’t want to comment further.

Channel 9 reached out to the ATF on Tuesday. A representative wasn’t available for comment specifically on whether the case is connected to the Charlotte case.

The letter warns these burglaries have taken place outside of normal business hours and usually occur during the early-morning hours. It also states the possibility that these suspects are visiting the shops prior to the burglaries looking for vulnerable entrances, visible alarm systems or surveillance equipment.

“We remind you to take full advantage of any security measures you have at your disposal in order to deter those responsible for these thefts,” said the ATF in the letter.

No arrests have been made in the attempted break-in at the Arms Room. Anyone with information is asked to contact local or federal authorities.

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