(WFLA) – The Tampa Bay area may be less safe after multiple recent gun shop burglaries.
In some of the recent cases the victims left guns out in the open, instead of locked in safes. News Channel 8 talked with a Pinellas County gun store co-owner who said there’s not really an excuse to have guns stolen – if you take proper precautions.
To get to the firing range and gun shop inside Bill Jackson’s in Pinellas Park, you pass several barriers that prevent burglars from stealing the vast assortment of weapons for sale.
“What we have here, you have to go through two concrete walls on either side to get into the gun section,” store co-owner Darry Jackson explained. “There’s really no excuse to have guns stolen, as I see it.”
In addition to alarms, there are cameras keeping a constant watch at Bill Jackson’s.
Darry Jackson is aware of the rash of gun shop smash and grabs in the Tampa Bay area. “It scares the heck out of me (because) we don’t want to have guns on the street, and those guys are bad guys anyway,” he said.
Jackson has turned the gun area in his store into a fortified vault – like a bank’s. For law enforcement, that seems like a no-brainer. “We see the jewelers doing it in jewelry stores. They don’t leave ’em in the glass displays,” Det. Larry McKinnon with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said. “The key to a lot of this is just prevention. And that’s where we’d rather be, rather than trying to chase back behind these guys.”
The stolen guns will likely be used to commit crimes. “Anytime you get guns on the street that are in the wrong hands, it’s a dangerous scenario,” McKinnon said.
A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the agency strongly encourages gun shop owners to store their merchandise in safes. Mary Harmon Salter said that’s a recommendation, although it’s not the law.