Florida ranks third in nation for gun thefts

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) –  Late last year, in the middle the night, a band of crooks in a stolen truck barreled into Tampa Arms Company off Waters Avenue. Within minutes the group of at least 10 people stole nearly 40 guns.

“They were just able to grab guns and run out,” said Cole, a gunsmith at the store.

Since the ambush, Cole said the store has installed more cameras and plans to add more.  They’ve even added more security enhancements on top of the protocol already in place.

“We put in these cages so every night these guns are locked in these cages and then they get padlocked,” said Cole.

What happened at Tampa Arms is a common occurrence across the state, especially in Tampa Bay.

In a recent report by the Center for American Progress, Florida was ranked third in the nation for stolen guns.  The report also shows a spike in thefts every year.

In 2012, approximately 233 guns were taken from licensed gun dealers, the report said.  Three years later, in 2016, that number rose to 662.

“These guns are fast money and there’s a big demand out there a lot of people have criminal records can’t buy guns,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Larry McKinnon.

According to McKinnon, the bigger issue isn’t gun shop thefts, it’s individual thefts.

“Most of the guns come from people who leave them in cars and the cars are left unlocked,” he said.

In the meantime, more gun stores like Tampa Arms have started arming themselves with the best security possible in order to keep their guns out of crooks’ hands.

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