Two burglaries within two days of each other rocked Colorado Gun Brokers and Triple J Armory in Littleton and put approximately 70 firearms on the streets last month.
These two incidents reflect a trend of steadily rising gun store thefts across America — and Colorado — since 2013.
The incidence of gun shop burglaries has increased by 28 percent in the past two years, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, meaning some 12,000 handguns, shotguns and rifles have been stolen from more than 1,100 federally licensed gun dealers.
According to data provided to Denver 7 by the ATF, 266 of those are from Colorado burglaries, which jumped up 116 percent from 2014 to 2015.
And the ATF reports that these guns often end up in the wrong hands.
“We know that from experience as soon as those guns are stolen, we have a very short period of time between when those guns go from the legal market into criminal hands and then are being used in crimes almost instantly,” Scott Fulkerson, ATF Resident Agent in Charge told ABC news in an interview.
When the Rooster in Rapid City, S.D., was burglarized in April of this year, three of the 25 handguns stolen wound up in violent crimes in the Denver-metro area — less than one month later.
It’s not just about stolen guns crossing state lines.
Although there is no data to show whether gun shop burglaries are on the rise in Denver, gun thefts and losses certainly are.
Eight years’ worth of data provided to Denverite by the Denver Department of Safety tracks the types and quantities of firearms reported lost or stolen in Denver. Last year proved the most significant: 559 firearms were reported lost or stolen, an 20 percent increase since 2013. As of June 23, 2016, 233 firearms had already been stolen or lost in Denver, including five stolen during a Bass Pro Shops burglary this March, 9News reported.
And according to the data, the type of gun targeted by robberies and burglaries has changed as well.
So what are the most popular guns to steal?
Semi-automatic rifles, pistols or shotguns have historically been the guns most frequently reported lost or stolen in Denver. A total of 314 were reported in 2015, up 28 percent since 2013. So far 136 remain unaccounted for in 2016.
Revolvers came in second — with 55 missing in 2015 and 3o in 2016 — followed by pump-action rifles or shot guns. The frequency that these models have been reported lost or stolen has decreased in recent years.
Finally, automatic weapon thefts are rising. In 2015, 30 automatic weapons were reported lost or stolen, up 50 percent since 2013. Already in 2016, seven have been reported lost or missing.
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