KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Two gun store robberies in three days has law enforcement officials questioning if there is another gang knocking off gun shops.
Police are searching for three suspects who robbed the Cabela's in KCK on Friday. The guns that were stolen at Cabela’s were secured on the floor displays but not locked in a vault.
Although the three suspects were inside for a short amount of time, they got away with what officials are describing as several guns.
"We know that the clock’s ticking, and it is not in our favor," ATF spokesperson John Ham said. "We are sort of behind the ball every time one of these happens."
The burglary has KCK police and the ATF scrambling to move quickly before they are used in a violent crime.
“We know that one of the major ways crime guns get on the street is through theft, whether it be residential, commercial, even theft out of vehicles,” Ham said.
The Bass Pro Shops in Olathe was also recently burglarized on New Year’s Day. Multiple gun thefts over a short period of time often means the crimes are related.
“Certainly something we have to run to ground to see if it is connected,” Ham said. “If there are similarities in the way they broke in, comparison of video surveillance and those types of things. Certainly something we are going to do sooner rather than later is see if they see are connected by any stretch.”
The last rash of gun store robberies happened in late summer, during about a two-week time frame. Guns were stolen from six or seven metro stores including Tactical Advantage, The Armory, Gunners Firearms, Frontier Justice, Money Treez and a gun store in Topeka.
“One of those burglaries was not connected to the others. The rest of them were either directly connected of loosely connected," Ham said. “We had burglary crews that were targeting gun shops and we were able, with the good work of ATF and from our law enforcement partners, able to get those people in custody and the majority of them have been charged federally.”
All of those stolen guns have not been tracked back to a violent crime yet. But a gun stolen in a previous robbery at The Armory was used to shoot three Kansas City, Missouri, ATF officers.
“And so the quicker we are able to get information on this case, the quicker we are able to develop suspects, certainly the better our chances of getting these guns recovered before they hit the streets,” Ham said.
Cabela’s issued the following statement about Friday's gun theft: "We are grateful for the support and assistance of law enforcement as they investigate the matter."
There is a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gun thieves. If you have any information, please call 1-888-ATF-GUNS.