Investigator: ‘Intentional method’ in recent gun thefts


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Sheriff’s Department says the burglary of nearly 90 guns from a store in Cedar Springs is the largest such theft in years.

“This is the largest number that I’ve seen at one time,” Sgt. Joel Roon told 24 Hour News 8.

Of the 89 guns stolen from Family Farm & Home early Saturday, 76 remained unaccounted for Monday.

The break-in was the latest in rash of gun thefts in Kent County. In September, 13 guns were stolen from the Cabela’s in Grandville. Shortly thereafter, another 20 were taken from Barracks 616 in Cascade Township. Five of those guns were later recovered. Federal authorities are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the 28 guns still on the streets.

There were several other attempted thefts at area stores, but the theft from the Family Farm & Home early Saturday morning is the motherload. It’s unclear if those guns were locked up or if any other security measures were in place.

24 Hour News 8 asked Sgt. Roon how people are able to get away with stealing such a large quantity of firearms.

“They need a lot of time. We don’t know how long they were in the business, but it would take a lot of time and certainly the means to transport that many weapons,” Roon said.

He said multiple agencies are working together to prevent another theft and try to keep guns from hitting the black market.

“There seems to be a very intentional method that’s being used and these firearms appear to be hitting the street rather quickly,” he said.

He said an unrelated Grand Rapids Police Department drug investigation yielded 13 of the guns stolen in Cedar Springs. Two people were taken into custody for receiving and concealing. Their names will be available following their arraignment, which is set for Tuesday.

“We do believe that there are other involved parties that are not in custody, so there’s a very real possibility that these things continue,” Roon said.

24 Hour News 8 also asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives whether store owners are required to lock up guns for sale.

“There are no federal laws governing security measures for any federally licensed gun dealer,” ATF Detroit Field Division Public Information Officer Ronnie Dahl said.

The ATF says it can only give store owners guidelines on safety, which include showing only one firearm at a time to a customer and providing safety and security training for employees.>>PDF: ATF guidelines

Dahl said the number of gun thefts is up nationwide.

Roon said the sheriff’s department is working with all local firearm retailers to help them improve security.

“Thankfully in the day and age that we live, costs are continuing to drop on high-quality video systems. So we would highly recommend investing in a video system, we highly recommend an audible alarm system, whether it goes to a service or not — something that makes a lot of noise is going to scare people away,” Roon said.

He said business owners and community members are law enforcement’s greatest allies to stopping crime trends in Kent County.

Anyone with information about any of the thefts is asked to call the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at 616.632.6100 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345. You can also call the ATF at 1.800.ATF.GUNS (283.4867).

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