OLATHE, Kan. - The ATF said Wednesday the number of robberies and burglaries at gun stores is up nationwide and the number of guns getting swiped during each crime is also on the rise.
In early January, a trio of thieves targeted The Olathe Gun Shop on the 700 block of South Rogers Road.
Police said they used a stolen red pickup to rip out the front door and execute their smash and grab.
All within minutes an alphabet soup of law enforcement agencies descended on the store.
“We send a lot of resources very, very quickly into that situation because we know that the demand for those guns is certainly there and the burglars are going to be able to offload those guns very quickly for a high amount,” John Ham, Public Information Officer for Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Kansas City Field Division said.
According to court documents 41 Action News obtained Wednesday, the suspects in January stole 36 firearms valued at $28,000.
Ham said because the demand for guns on the street is high, crooks can tack on another $100 to $200 dollars on top of the retail value.
“That’s why it’s lucrative enough for them to take the risk what they don’t consider is that there is virtual law enforcement army that is going to be after them,” Ham said.
At least two of the suspects in the Olathe case aren't even 18 years old. One of them, Marquez Manuel, 17, will be tried as an adult after prosecutors charged him earlier this month with three felonies.
Court documents show DNA from a screwdriver left behind at the scene did him in.
“So are they paying great attention to detail? Not in every case,” Ham said. “Although in some cases we see it’s very well orchestrated thing and it almost looks rehearsed.”
According to ATF figures, last year in Kansas there were 36 instances that resulted in 163 firearms either lost or stolen. In Missouri, 381 firearms were either lost or stolen in 84 cases.
Ham said their agencies work closely with licensed gun retailers to deter thieves.
One way? Simply put away all firearms when they close for the day.
“While they are time-consuming for the store itself it only takes one incident and you could lose your entire inventory,” Ham said.
He adds that six months ago the ATF started a notification system. When one gun store gets robbed or burglarized all the gun stores in that particular county are put on alert.
As for Manuel charged in the January burglary, he goes to Johnson County, Kan. court June 30. Bond is set at $150,000.