Thieves are busting into gun stores to grab loads of weapons and ammunition, stolen guns that are now on our streets.
5 on your side has covered several cases this month. In Des Peres, Affton, Valley Park, Crestwood and High Ridge — thieves have broken into at least five gun shops, in just the last couple of weeks.
The latest burglaries happened Monday morning in Crestwood and High Ridge. Police believe those cases may be connected.
Thieves stole an unknown number of long guns from Southern Armory in Crestwood Monday morning. When the thieves were leaving, they fired shots at witnesses nearby at Harbor Freight Tools. Now, gun store owners around the metro area are on alert.
"We missed them by a few seconds,” said owner of Modern Weapons Systems Ian McFarland. “They were very lucky."
Thieves hit the High Ridge's store about 30 minutes after the heist in Crestwood.
"If I was here and they were out in the parking lot, they would have been dead, I can tell you that," McFarland said.
McFarland and his wife Amy said it's the first time thieves hit their store. Police said thieves were in their store for only 17 seconds. The owners said that's because of their security. Which is why they believe the burglars didn't get away with much. The McFarlands wouldn't tell us how many guns were stolen because the burglary is under investigation.
"It wouldn't have made a difference how we did things. The amount of time that was spent in this store was very apparent that are systems work."
There have been at least four gun store burglaries in the past few weeks in St. Louis County. John Stephenson is the owner of Metro Shooting Supplies in Bridgton. He believes criminals are picking easy targets.
"Basically, they are breaking a piece of glass and going in," Stephenson said.
Stephenson said his store has had no burglaries in the six years he’s been in business. He credits his security for that, but knows his store could be the next one targeted. Stephenson said the best you can do is prepare.
"We have a number of layers of defense," he said.
And at the gun store in High Ridge, they have a warning for anyone who tries to rob them again.
"They better be careful next time," McFarland said.
McFarland said they are taking steps to make sure this doesn't happen again. St. Louis County police said they are talking with other departments to see if and how all of these burglaries are connected.