ATF working vigorously to combat stark rise in gun shop heists

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said burglaries and robberies at gun shops are on the rise in the metro and across the nation. FOX 4 sat down with ATF Agent John Ham to learn why.

Ham said the increase can be in part attributed to how the black market is doing. He said as ATF agents do their job and get more guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals, there are less for sale on the black market.

"When we target those people and their pipeline for firearms, when we are doing our job correctly, then we are making it harder for them to get guns," he told FOX 4.

According to ATF, gun shop burglaries have gone up by more than 48 percent since 2012 across the nation. ATF said robberies have gone up by 175 percent.

"We attack these very vigorously and investigate them with our state partners and have a very good success rate in catching people responsible," Ham said.

According to ATF, not only have the number of gun store break-ins and robberies increased, but the number of firearms taken. Staff said in 2012, 4,340 firearms were stolen during gun shop burglaries. In 2016, staff said 7,488 were stolen.

FOX 4 spoke to staff at Show Me Shooters Indoor Range in Claycomo. Staff said their shop was burglarized within recent months and the suspects made off with six or seven guns.

"Find a different career," said Don Pind, a gunsmith and trainer at the range. "The only thing you will get out of breaking into a gun shop is three meals a day and a cot."

Pind said he and his staff immediately report any suspicious activity to ATF. He said agents will respond to their store within minutes.