Gun Store Thefts On The Rise In Middle Tennessee, Across The Nation

Posted at 10:21 PM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-14 23:33:52-04

Police in Middle Tennessee and across the nation have seen an increase in gun store burglaries and thefts.

Ryan Brooks is the owner of a Mount Juliet Guns and Ammo shop. His day started with a call from his security company. "The front door was busted open on the glass, and there were definitely some firearms, handguns stolen," Brooks said. 

Sixteen handguns were taken and the burglary was one of three gun store thefts that have occurred since late May when 39 firearms were taken from a store in LaVergne. Earlier this week 45 firearms were taken from a store in Clarksville.

"Where are these firearms going? I mean, you don't know and it's terrible," said Brooks. "It just seems like here in the last couple of weeks it is happening more often. Just got to figure out why." 

"People only steal firearms for one purpose and that's to commit additional crimes," ATF Special Agent Michael Knight said. 

Knight is in Birmingham, AL investigating three more gun store thefts. "It's everywhere, middle Tennessee is being hit pretty hard, same with Birmingham," said Knight. 

He credited the uptick in gun store burglaries to the summer season and a gun friendly state. "There are many firearms legally owned in the state of Tennessee, therefore we have a larger number of gun stores, larger number of individuals selling these firearms legally," explained Knight. 

However, more often than not, while the criminals who commit these crimes are not connected larger criminal groups could be funneling the stolen firearms in bigger cities. "There very well may be a connection of where they're ending up," said Knight. 

That has business owners like Brooks a little on edge. "You're always nervous, you just got to take the precautions," said Brooks. 

The ATF is partnering with local law enforcement agencies and the National Shooting Sports Foundation to offer a $5,000 reward for information leading the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for these crimes.