Carolinas gun thefts increase at fastest rate in U.S.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There have been 900 guns stolen from stores in the Carolinas in 2016 and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials said it's the fastest rate in the U.S.

Federal agents are working around the clock to solve the cases but the connection between the crimes isn't clear.

Guns have been stolen from 81 firearms shops in the Carolinas since January.

“We've had approximately 900 that have been taken through burglary, larceny or robbery,” ATF agent Gerod King said.

ATF agents went to each crime scene looking for evidence, leads and connections.

“We do have intelligence to reflect that some of these cases are related and that some of these people are traveling across state lines to commit these crimes,” King said.

There is what is called an “iron pipeline” where guns stolen from the region get funneled up along Interstate 95 to northern areas like New York City.

King said past cases show it's possible.

“A lot of them have come from source states in the southeast because the firearms laws are less restrictive,” King said.

Stopping thefts is crucial and agents know hundreds of stolen guns on the streets could come with serious consequences.

Agents need tips from the public to help solve all of these cases and they're urging gun shop owners to beef up security by adding bars to windows and surveillance cameras.

If anyone has tips they can contact ATF anonymously at 1-800-GUNS, email atftips@atf.gov or download their mobile app at www.reportit.com

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