Thieves clear Tampa gun store shelves; $10,000 reward offered for suspects

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — A $10,000 reward is now being offered after a gun heist at a Tampa Arms Co. on Waters Avenue. Surveillance video captures the suspects after a truck smashes into the front of the store and suspects run inside and grab more than 35 guns.

“I think the way entry was made the fact that they had numerous people to enter and clear out the store that it was obviously thought out and organized,” said Major Kristi Poore with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. “We are very concerned I mean the guns are in the wrong hands and it’s dangerous,” said Major Poore about the aggressive search for the suspects.

“Fortunately we did have state of the art security,” said Tampa Arm Co. co-owner Richard Smith. “We did have bars on the window, although that’s not going to stop a 6000-pound truck. We have cameras, alarm systems hopefully the police will be able to use that and find something.”

“We are a small store we do a lot of repairs and maintenance. We don’t carry a large amount of fire arms say as big box stores would which  I guess in this case is fortunate,” added Smith about the store that is closed and boarded up for the time being.

ATF representatives tell WFLA News Channel 8 that 35 or more guns were taken, as they continue to catalog the stolen firearms. “Hand guns and long guns. I know we had about 12-15 longs guns, several hand guns,” said Smith.

“We think that there were other vehicles that were involved,” said Major Poore. “The truck was the battering ram and they had from what I know several other cars waiting outside,” said Smith.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating after they say burglars used at least one vehicle to break into a gun and ammunition store in Tampa Tuesday morning.reward

The alleged burglary happened at Tampa Arms Company on West Waters Ave. near Dale Mabry, around 2:50 a.m. Tuesday. Investigators say the thieves used a truck or SUV to ram through the front of the store, breaking the glass, and made off with dozens of firearms.

Richard Smith, a co-owner of the store, believes it was a well thought out, organized theft.

Smith says multiple vehicles were involved in the break-in; around 8 to 12 suspects can be seen on surveillance video.

At least 40 firearms were stolen in less than two minutes, investigators say. “We are very concerned, these guns are in the wrong hands,” said Major Kristi Poore.

The front windows of the store were smashed in and one wall used to display merchandise inside the store is completely empty.

“The vehicle smashed through the front entry of the business, at that time we know numerous individuals entered the store, cleared off the walls and the cabinets and removed the firearms,” said Poore. “We think this was a very quick operation, less than two minutes.”

There are about a dozen stores in the shopping complex, deputies say the gun store was the only one hit.

Deputies are reviewing video from inside the store and surrounding stores as they investigate.


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