Stolen guns turning up at other crimes

Gun theft increasing nationally and in metro

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -  Isiah Clinton and Richard Hampton are currently in custody on federal gun charges.

They're accused of selling stolen weapons to an informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, or ATF.

Court records state that before their arrests, the two men were involved in an ongoing shooting dispute.

A Kansas City Police Department source says Hampton shot a man in the 3800 block of Troost Avenue on September 10.

Court records say retaliatory gunfire erupted the next day at the home of Hampton's family.

Police recovered 21 shell casings of various calibers at that scene.

Two weeks later, on September 23, a gun battle erupted near a club in the 8600 block of Troost.

That time, police found 70 shell casings of various calibers near the club.

Officers took Clinton into custody at the scene.

"We see guns sometimes going for double and triple in price when the element that can't get their hands on guns legally goes after them," said Kevin O'Keefe, ATF Chief Operational Officer.

The 41 Action News Investigators along with more than a dozen other NBC stations across the country teamed with the non-profit journalism organization The Trace.

After reviewing more than 800,000 law enforcement records from across the country, more than 23,000 records found stolen guns had been recovered at other crime scenes, including violent crime scenes.

The 41 Action News Investigators took a closer look at some of the cases in the metro.

Over the last few years, there have been 7 guns reported stolen in Kansas City, Kansas which have later turned up at other crime scenes.

Olathe had 12 similar cases.

There were 201 in Topeka and 130 in Kansas City, Missouri.

But those numbers only reflect guns reported stolen to law enforcement.

Not everyone files a report with police when guns are stolen.

According to ATF, there's also been a noticeable increase in the number of thefts from gun dealers who hold a federal firearms license (or FFL). There's also been a jump in the number of guns stolen in those thefts.

According to ATF, there are more than 500 FFL dealers in the Kansas City metro alone.

Guns are such a hot commodity on the street, South Carolina burglars were captured on surveillance video using a blowtorch to break into a gun shop there.

Burglars also took the door off Show Me Shooters Indoor Range in Claycomo.

They were caught a couple of days later with seven stolen guns. 

As part of the security at Show Me Shooters, there are concrete blocks in front of the windows to prevent someone from driving a car into the store to steal guns.

"We try to eliminate any place that anybody could break in because they'll try it," said Don Pind of Show Me Shooters.

Our investigation also revealed police are able to recover many stolen guns not used in other crimes.

For example, a .357 magnum stolen in a burglary in Kern County, California was sold to a dealer in Tempe, Arizona.

An Olathe man bought the gun on the internet through an FFL dealer operating out of his Olathe home.

Police were able to recover the gun and return it to its rightful owner.

"A majority of the time we find a stolen gun, its on a traffic stop, it's when we make an arrest of an individual without that gun being used, thankfully," said Sgt. Logan Bonney, an Olathe Police Department spokesman.

However, our investigation revealed stolen guns turned up at violent crime scenes 1570 times across the nation in the last few years.

Those numbers reflect information provided by more than 1000 law enforcement agencies.

However, some of the largest police departments in the country didn't provide serial numbers of the guns they recovered at other crime scenes.  Without that information, it's impossible to know how many stolen guns were recovered.

Those cities include Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco.

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